Booster jab invites are being sent out to more than a million people to “strengthen the wall of defence” against coronavirus created by the vaccines.
Some 1.5 million people will be contacted and encouraged to use the National Booking Service.
NHS England said the vaccination of children aged 12 to 15 will also begin “shortly”.
Those eligible for boosters include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers.
All those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group for Covid (who were included in priority groups one to nine during the initial vaccine rollout) will also be eligible for a jab.
People who are most vulnerable to #COVID19 will be offered a booster vaccine.
▶️ adults aged 50 or over
▶️ frontline health & social care workers
▶️ care home residents
The NHS will contact you directly if you're eligible for a booster.
More info 👇
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) September 18, 2021
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said people should receive their booster dose at least six months after they received their second coronavirus jab.
While there is a preference that people should get the Pfizer jab as a third dose, regardless of which jab they were initially given, the JCVI said half doses of the Moderna jab could be used as an alternative.
There are also booster campaigns in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is excellent that getting your booster jab has now become even easier thanks to the opening of the National Booking Service to those eligible.
“Booster doses are an important way of keeping the virus under control for the long term and will protect the most vulnerable through the winter months.
“I urge everyone who receives a letter or text to get their jab as soon as possible so we can strengthen the wall of defence across the country that each vaccine brings.”
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) September 17, 2021
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the Covid vaccination programme, said: “The NHS Covid vaccination programme has already prevented 24 million cases and saved more than 112,000 lives.
“As we head into winter we should not drop our guard so I would urge everyone to come forward and get a booster vaccination when they are invited.
“Getting a top-up vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this cruel virus.”
People who receive an invitation can book their appointment at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination, and those who cannot go online can instead call 119.
Millions more invitations are to be issued in the coming days and weeks, NHS England said.
The NHS officially launched its coronavirus booster campaign on Thursday, with hospital hubs having begun jabbing frontline health and care workers.
NHS England said local health teams will prioritise care home residents and staff who are eligible – and offer a booster jab by the beginning of November.
The ramped up vaccine campaign comes as international travel restrictions are set to be eased, amid warnings from some experts that “letting our guard down” runs the risk of new variants coming in.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on Friday that the traffic light system is to be replaced from October 4 by a single, reduced, “red list” of destinations, and those who are fully vaccinated will no longer need a pre-departure test before returning from non-red list destinations.
From the end of October, they will be able to replace the day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test.
But Lawrence Young, professor of molecular oncology at the University of Warwick, said: “Letting our guard down runs the risk of bringing a new variant into the country, such as the mu variant first identified in Colombia, which could reduce the effectiveness of current vaccines.”
The Scottish Government said it would drop the traffic light system, but will not follow England when it comes to testing requirements.
The Welsh Government said it would consider the UK Government’s proposed changes, but health minister Eluned Morgan warned they could “weaken the line of defence on importing infection”.
In Northern Ireland, the traffic light system will change from October 4, with a single “red list” of destinations, while proposed changes to pre-departure and post-arrival testing will be discussed by Stormont ministers next week.