MILLIONS of Brits will receive their Covid vaccinations from today amid fears the new ‘Pirola’ variant will surge as school term starts.
Vaccines will be distributed to nursing home residents and people who are homebound before other vulnerable groups are invited.
The rollout was brought forward due to the emergence of the heavily mutated BA.2.86 strain, which caused an outbreak in a house in Norwich.
Health chiefs told The Sun that eligible Brits should get their next dose to protect themselves against the variant, especially with children now back in classrooms.
Steve Russell, from NHS England, said: “The return of schools after a summer break can often lead to a rise in infections among children.”
“With the outbreak of the most worrying variant since Omicron, it is important that those eligible for a Covid vaccination protect themselves and the young people in their lives.
“The NHS is accelerating preparations for the rollout of the Covid vaccination program in the autumn. So if you are eligible, it is important to book in for your vaccination when you are invited.
“Not only does it reduce your risk of becoming seriously ill, but it also reduces the likelihood that you will pass the disease on to a loved one.”
There have been 34 confirmed cases of Pirola in England, five patients have been hospitalized but there have been no deaths.
Experts at Britain’s Health Security Agency say the strain is currently spreading across the country, but they don’t know whether it will be worse than Omicron.
The winter vaccination program has been brought forward from October to address concerns while scientists study the strain.
Vaccinations will be offered to everyone over 65, people in clinical risk groups and frontline health and social care workers in the coming weeks.
Dr. Mary Ramsay from the UKHSA said: “Older people and those in clinical risk groups remain at the highest risk of severe illness from Covid-19.”
“The vaccine continues to provide the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization from Covid-19.
“Please make sure you get vaccinated when you are offered the vaccine and encourage your loved ones who are eligible to do the same.”