England’s Covid and flu fall vaccine program has been brought forward by about a month as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new coronavirus variant.
(Bloomberg) — England’s Covid and flu fall vaccine program has been brought forward by about a month as a precautionary measure following the identification of a new coronavirus variant.
The UK Health Security Agency said Wednesday that the move aims to protect those most vulnerable from illness during winter after a new strain, known as BA.2.86, was detected in the UK on Aug. 18.
The new variant has not been classified as a concern yet but it appears to have more than 30 mutations on its spike protein, which helps the virus latch onto cells and cause infection. That could potentially make it better at evading immunity from vaccines and past infections.
It has also appeared in several countries in individuals without travel history, the agency said, indicating it is now spreading within communities.
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People in care homes, the clinically vulnerable, those age 65 and over, and health and social care workers will be able to get a Covid shot from Sept. 11, as well as a flu shot where possible.
“As with all emergent and circulating Covid-19 variants – both in the UK and internationally – we will continue to monitor BA.2.86 and to advise government and the public as we learn more. In the meantime, please come forward for the vaccine when you are called,” said UKHSA Chief Executive Officer Jenny Harries.
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