CENTRAL Devon MP and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride is urging eligible constituents to take up the offer of a Covid-19 booster jab this autumn. 

This year’s autumn flu and Covid-19 vaccine programmes are starting earlier than planned in England as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new Covid variant.

While the variant - BA.2.86 - is not currently classified as a variant of concern, advice from the UKHSA suggests that speeding up the autumn vaccine programme will deliver greater protection, supporting those at greatest risk of severe illness and reducing the potential impact on the NHS.

Vaccinations began on September 11 for those most at risk, including adult care home residents and people who are immunosuppressed.

The NHS is now inviting people in priority order of risk and those eligible can book an appointment on the National Booking Service.

The following people are eligible for an autumn Covid booster:

• Residents in care homes for older adults

• All adults aged 65 years and over

• People aged six months to 64 years in a clinical risk group, 

• Frontline health and social care workers.

• People aged 12 to 64 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression

• People aged 16 to 64 years who are carers and staff working in care homes for older adults.

Mr Stride said: “Vaccinations have been scientifically proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 if you catch it.

"The best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and to ease pressure on our NHS this winter is to get vaccinated this autumn if you are eligible.”