NHS England is stepping up its Covid booster jab programme, sending two million more invites this week. A senior health chief has urged people to get their Covid-19 booster jab as soon as they’re eligible.
NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said infection rates are rising, while the Government again ruled out a move to its coronavirus Plan B, despite calls to bring in measures to curb the spread of the virus.
On Sunday, more than 800,000 people had their booster in the past 72 hours. The government is also urging those not yet vaccinated to get jabbed.
But Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has warned that the vaccination programme will not be enough to bring current infection rates under control.
He said people need to be testing themselves, wearing masks and avoiding crowds in enclosed spaces in order to prevent “a real meltdown”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street has insisted there is still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B will only be activated if it comes under “significant pressure”.
Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks. Asked if it is time to bring in Plan B to tackle the virus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show that “at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B”.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup told LBC Plan A is “working” and “where we need to be”.
Meanwhile, anyone who receives a text or letter inviting them for a booster jab is urged to take up the offer as soon as possible.
Who can get a Covid-19 booster vaccine
Booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from Covid-19 who have had a second dose of a vaccine at least six months ago.
The priority order, drawn up by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), is as follows:
- Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
- All those aged 80 and over, and frontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 and over
- All those 70 and over, and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
- All those 65 and over
- All individuals aged 16 to 64 who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
- All those 60 and over
- All those 55 and over
- All those 50 and over
When will I get the booster vaccine?
NHS England says it aims to contact everyone who is eligible six months and one week (189 days) since their second dose at the latest, according to Sky News.
With five million people already being given the booster jab, the following are now being called up:
- people aged 50 and over
- people who live and work in care homes
- frontline health and social care workers
- people aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- people aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from COVID-19
- people aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
People who are pregnant and in one of the eligible groups can also get a booster dose.
NHS England said 7.5 million people have already been invited by text, email and letter, encouraging them to book through the National Booking Service.
The NHS is following guidance that boosters should be delivered at least six months after the second dose, with current evidence suggesting this is the best time to increase immunity to Covid-19.
Messages will come from NHS vaccine and will include a link to the NHS website.
Currently around 10 million people in England are eligible for a booster, including health and care workers, those with underlying health conditions, and people aged 50 and over.
Prof Powis said: “Winter is coming and infection rates are rising and so it’s now really important that everyone receiving their invite for a booster vaccine from the NHS this week books in at one of the convenient vaccinations sites around the country offering this crucial, additional protection.
“Thanks to NHS staff, nine in 10 people have had a first dose, saving tens of thousands of lives, and now more than five million boosters have been delivered in the first month of the rollout.
“I would urge anyone receiving an invite this week to book in as soon as possible, the booster dose is proven to significantly increase protection against Covid and will provide vital protection this winter.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: ““As we go into winter, it is vital that eligible people get their booster jab and their flu jab to protect themselves, their loved ones and the NHS.
“This is a national mission and I’m hugely grateful to the public, volunteers and NHS workers rolling out jabs. It is fantastic to see some of our biggest high street pharmacies give their backing to the winter vaccination programme.”
It comes after Boris Johnson urged the over 50s to come forward and get their booster jabs as soon as they become eligible.
The Prime Minister said: “You get the call, get the jab. We have done about four million booster jabs already but as soon as you become eligible, as soon as you get that call, everybody over 50 should be getting that jab.
“Ninety percent of the adult population has antibodies right now but we must fortify ourselves further. The numbers (of infections) are high, we can see what’s happening, we can see the increase, now is the time to get those booster jabs.”