More than 3MILLION vulnerable people in England have now had their Covid booster vaccine
- NHS England revealed 3.1million people have come forward for the booster
- Two in five eligible over-50s and third of eligible NHS staff have had top-up dose
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to get jab to ‘keep the virus at bay’
More than 3million people in England have received a Covid booster jab, official figures show.
NHS England revealed today 3.1million eligible over-50s, NHS workers and at-risk adults have now come forward for a top-up dose in the 29 days since the roll-out began on September 16.
But there are still millions more who are technically now allowed to get their third dose but haven’t yet.
Since 92-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine outside of a clinical trial in December, 94.6million jabs have been administered in the UK.
The booster programme began two days after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that the injections should be dished out to those most at risk from the virus to maintain a high level of protection through the winter.
The rollout is a key part of ministers plans to suppress an expected fourth wave of the virus in the coming months.
But a back-up ‘Plan B’ will – including mandatory face masks in certain settings, work from home guidance and vaccine passports – will be implemented if the health service faces unsustainable pressure.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid today urged those eligible to come forward ‘as soon as possible’ to protect themselves and their loved ones and ‘keep the virus at bay’.
NHS England revealed today 3.1million people have come forward for the top-up dose in the 29 days since the rollout began on September 16. The health service in England only began publishing booster dose figures on October 1, when 863,460 had been administered
Since 92-year-old Margaret Keenan (pictured getting booster dose on September 24) became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine outside of a clinical trial on December 8 at University Hospital in Coventry, 94.6million jabs have been administered in the UK
England’s Covid outbreak is now biggest it’s been since JANUARY
Covid cases in England are now at their highest level since January, with one in 60 people infected on any given day last week, according to Government figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated 890,000 people in England – 1.63 per cent of the population – had the virus on October 9, up 13.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure.
Infections have not been as high since the country began to recover from the darkest days of the second wave in mid-January, when more than 1million people were thought to be carrying the virus.
Cases now appear to be rising in all cohorts, apart from those aged 35 to 49, where the ONS warned the trend is uncertain. But the latest hike has been fuelled by infections among pupils, with one in 12 youngsters aged 11 to 16 infected.
Meanwhile, separate data from the UK Health Security Agency, which took over from the now-defunct PHE, today showed the the R rate is the same level as last week – between a range of 0.9 and 1.1.
Top scientists have repeatedly warned of a fourth wave this winter, prompted by the return of pupils to classrooms and office workers, as well as the colder weather and darker evenings driving people to socialise inside where the virus finds it easier to spread.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty yesterday claimed this winter will be ‘exceptionally difficult’ for the NHS, even if there is not a surge of infections. He warned the health service faces tough months ahead due to a resurgence of flu and other seasonal viruses.
No10 has plans in place to bring back restrictions if the roll-out of booster vaccines and jabs to over-12s fail to curb the impact of Covid on hospitals. And ministers have previously warned they could not rule out another lockdown as a last resort.
But despite the bleak figures, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today dismissed introducing another lockdown at Christmas, saying there will ‘be no issues’ with seeing loved ones around the festive period.
As of today, around 6.5million people in England are eligible for a booster.
Those invited to get the jab are health and social care workers, over-50s, those with underlying health conditions, people living in care homes for older adults and those who live with immunosuppressed people.
People in those groups will be asked to come forward for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine – regardless of which jab they had for their first two doses – at least six months after they were double-jabbed.
Millions of Britons will get a dose of the flu vaccine at the same time as their booster, but in a different arm, after trials found both jabs were still safe and effective when co-administered.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and deputy leader of the NHS Covid vaccine programme, said: ‘I’ve had my vaccine already in the local pharmacy and it was really straightforward, so when you get that important invite please come forward and protect yourself and your family this winter.’
Mr Javid said: ‘NHS staff and volunteers continue to do an amazing job delivering our phenomenal vaccine rollout.
‘Boosters are continuing to reinforce the wall of defence that vaccines have built across the country and will provide vital protection to millions – it will help keep the virus at bay.
‘I urge all those eligible for a top-up dose to get yours as soon as possible to not only protect yourself, but also to keep your loved ones safe from this virus.’
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: ‘It is testament to our brilliant vaccination programme that we have been able to achieve this so rapidly and I would like to take this opportunity to thank our frontline staff and volunteers who have made this possible.
‘Everyone eligible should not delay in getting their jab as soon as they can.’
Those eligible can book their booster vaccine appointment online or by phoning 119.
The booster jabs are the latest stage of the vaccine rollout, after first doses began being dished out on December 8 and second doses from December 29.
The scheme was then further expanded in August when 16 and 17-year-olds were invited to get the jab.
And 12 to 15-year-olds began getting the vaccine on September 20 after the Government accepted advice from the UK’s chief medical officers that the vaccines would limit disruption to their education.
Earlier this week, the NHS urged pregnant women to come forward for Covid jabs, after it emerged that nearly a fifth of the most unwell patients hospitalised with the virus were unvaccinated pregnant women.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty warned yesterday that this winter will be ‘exceptionally difficult’ for the NHS even if there is not a surge of infections, due to winter pressures and an expected spike in flu cases.