Covid vaccinations have been brought forward by the NHS with the emergence of the new Pirola variant to help protect those at higher risk.

Doctors are urging those at risk from both Covid and the flu in the coming winter months to make sure they get their jabs as the health service starts an urgent inoculation programme in north and east London.

“It’s vital all those eligible get protection,” NHS North East London chief nursing officer Diane Jones urged. “Vaccinations are our best defence against the new Covid variant that increases the risk of infection.”

The two vaccines for Covid and flu can be given at the same time to safeguard against serious infection . Those eligible include anyone over 65, pregnant women, people living in care homes, frontline health and care staff and unpaid carers, as well as anyone and their household deemed clinically at risk.

Muhammad Naqvi, a GP who heads immunisations for NHS North East London, said: “Vaccines have kept people out of hospital and helped save countless lives over the last few years. They help stop diseases spreading in the population.”

People living and working in care homes have already started receiving their jabs. Those in other eligible groups can book their Covid booster jab appointments from Monday, September 18.

Those who had their Covid booster last autumn were more than 50 per cent less likely to end up in hospital with the virus within two to four weeks after their vaccination, compared to those who didn’t get their jabs, NHS data has shown.

Doctors are urging the public to get both their Covid and flu jabs as soon as they are eligible this winter.

The flu vaccine is also now being offered to most children, usually given as a quick and harmless nasal spray.

Public health experts are advising people to “stay active” in the coming winter months and get outdoors for walks, cycling or jogging. Hot meals and drinks and plenty of fruit and vegetables are recommended and stocking up on basic canned food and medicines for coughs and colds.

Details on all winter vaccinations and how to book appointments can be found at