London, Thanasis Gavos

It starts from today Monday at England the concurrent reinforcer schedule vaccination against the coronavirus and flu vaccination.

The program is starting a month earlier than originally planned for the most vulnerable residents, due to concerns over the emergence of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The first to be vaccinated will be nursing home residents and severely ill patients confined to their homes.

The UK Health Protection Agency recommends vaccination from next week for those over 65, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and those living with people in high-risk categories.

The COVID-19 variant that caused the vaccine program to be rushed is BA.2.86, which contains about 30 more mutations than the Omicron variant that appeared in December 2021.

Officially, however, BA.2.86. has not been designated a variant of concern, but concern was raised about its ability to transmit after 45 cases in a nursing home in Norfolk.

The autumn vaccination program has already started in Scotland. Within the week it also starts in Wales and the following week in Northern Ireland.