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The influenza and COVID-19 season approaches…

02 November 2023
Volume 28 · Issue 11

The autumn flu and COVID vaccination campaign has been brought forward by 2 weeks in response to the potential threat of a new Sars-CoV-2 variant (BA.2.86) known as Pirola, which was first detected in the UK on 18 August. According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) (2023a), the BA.2.86 variant is now more globally dispersed than other variants such as Eris and Fornax, which are of a similar age. This suggests that it is seeding through mass travel as well as the emergence of established transmission chains within many countries. While there appears to be little information about the BA.2.86 variant due to few reported cases to assess its comparative severity, there is some concern that it may dominate, just like the Omicron variant. However, it is the nature of viruses that they mutate over time, and that new variants will continue to emerge. GPs and pharmacists will be given £5 for each vaccination before the end of October and this will be doubled to £10 for vaccinating care home residents. This is in an attempt to ensure as many potentially vulnerable people are vaccinated prior to the high-risk months of December and January (NHS England, 2023).

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