Millions waiting to receive booster jab amid fears of rising Covid hospitalisations

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Health officials and experts have warned that nearly 5 million people are at higher risk of catching Covid because they have not yet received their booster jabs.

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Under government guidance, people over the age of 50 and vulnerable groups who were double vaccinated at least six months ago are eligible for a third dose, but there are fears that a lack of communication and access to the booster program could be hindered. may arise.

Although vaccine coverage is high across the UK, infection rates are returning to those seen during the winter wave. Some 49,156 tested positive for Covid on Monday, a weekly increase of 22 per cent and the highest figure since the end of the lockdown.


Failure to “top up” safety levels could put further pressure on the NHS, with hospitalizations of the elderly already creeping in.

NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, offered the public a booster jab to “take up” while Professor Irene Peterson, an epidemiologist at University College London, said the UK’s booster program should be “getting back”. What is needed is the “speed that we had in winter and spring”.

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The UK booster program has been in operation for a month now, with 3.7 million individuals receiving a third dose. Statistics show that 4.8 million people who got their second jab at least six months ago are eligible for a booster, but have not yet received a booster, including 3.3 million in their 60s. Are included.

A study from Imperial College London found that rates are higher among those who were fully vaccinated now three to six months earlier than those who received a second dose within the previous 12 weeks.

Separate research from Public Health England shows that protection against infection after a second dose of AstraZeneca drops from 67 percent to 47 percent after 20 weeks. Over the same period, the protection against serious illness and hospitalization drops from 95 percent to 77 percent.

Professor Peterson said given the risk of immunodeficiency, it is important that the booster program be intensified as “the risk of meeting someone who is currently very high”.

Failure to do so “is likely to result in hospitalization and increased pressure on the NHS,” she said. “The ones getting the boosters right now are the ones most likely [of those who are already vaccinated] To get a serious infection. “

Last week, there was a 19 percent increase in hospital admissions among the 65 to 84 age group, and an 8 percent increase in those over the age of 85. Overall, there are about 5,938 people in hospital with Covid in England.

Modeling from John Roberts of the Covid-19 Actuaries Response Group, the current rate of rollout suggests that it will take another four weeks to ensure that all people over 80 are given a third dose, “during which time many more Will get seriously ill due to lack of protection of the booster”, he said.

The analysis also shows that the number of eligible people waiting for a booster jab is increasing by 800,000 per week. By calculations, an estimated 2 million doses need to be administered each week to “keep up” with the number of people who become newly eligible for the third dose.

About 46 percent of people aged 80 or older have now received a third dose, followed by 30 percent of those between the ages of 75 and 79. Of those eligible for boosters, uptake is highest in London, Yorkshire and the North-East, and lowest. East of England.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the booster program would aim to “protect the most vulnerable during the winter months”. However, Mr Roberts said the pace of the rollout means these priority groups will not be triple-jaded until January.

NHS Providers Deputy Chief Executive Saffron Corddry said declining immunity levels in the UK and “significant levels of Covid-19” circulating in the community mean there is a constant threat from the disease, especially in society For the weakest people. .

“The NHS is already working under intense pressure, to cope with severe staff shortages, to recover waiting lists and to cope with the growing demand for emergency care,” she said.

“We would urge everyone to offer a Covid-19 jab, including a booster, when it is offered to them.”

Professor Linda Bold, a behavioral scientist at the University of Edinburgh, said that “maintaining enthusiasm for the vaccine program can be challenging”.

She said it was important that communications and public health information campaigns around the need for a booster jab for at-risk groups are “substantially revitalized and sustained”.


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