- NHS England reveals 3.1 million people have come forward for boosters
- Two in five eligible over 50s and a third in eligible NHS staff have taken a top-up dose
- Health Secretary Sajid Javid urges people to ‘keep the virus away’
Official figures show that more than 3 million people in England have received a Covid booster jab.
NHS England revealed today that 3.1 million eligible over 50s, NHS workers and at-risk adults have now come forward to top-up doses in 29 days since the roll-out began on 16 September.
But there are still millions more who are technically now allowed to take their third dose, but have not yet received it.
Since 92-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine outside of clinical trials in December, 94.6 million jabs have been administered in the UK.
The booster program began two days later when the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization advised that injections should be given to those most at risk from the virus to maintain a high level of protection during the winter.
The rollout is a key part of ministers’ plan to suppress an expected fourth wave of the virus in the coming months.
But there will be a back-up ‘Plan B’ – which includes mandatory face masks in some settings, work from home guidance and vaccine passports – to be implemented if the healthcare system faces unsustainable pressure.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid today urged eligible people to come forward ‘at the earliest’ to protect themselves and their loved ones and ‘keep the virus away’.
NHS England revealed today that 3.1 million people have come forward for a top-up dose in the 29 days since the rollout began on 16 September. The Health Service in England only began publishing booster dose figures on 1 October, when 863,460 had been administered.
Since 92-year-old Margaret Keenan (receiving a booster dose on September 24) became the first person in the world to receive a Covid vaccine outside of clinical trials on December 8 at Coventry’s University Hospital, 94.6 million jabs have been administered. UK
England’s Covid outbreak now biggest since January
According to government figures, Covid cases in England are now at their highest level since January, with one in 60 people infected on any given day last week.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 890,000 people in England – 1.63 per cent of the population – had the virus as of 9 October, up 13.2 per cent on the previous weekly figure.
Infections have not risen as much since the country recovered from the darkest days of the second wave in mid-January, when more than 1 million people were thought to have been carrying the virus.
Cases are now rising in all groups, except for those aged 35 to 49, where the ONS warned the trend was uncertain. But the latest increase has been due to infection among students, with one in 12 young people aged 11 to 16 being infected.
Meanwhile, separate data from the UK Health Protection Agency, which took over from the now-defunct PHE, showed today that the R rate is at 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, prompting the return of pupils to classrooms and office workers, as well as cold weather and dark evenings for people to socialize where The virus seems easy to spread.
England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty claimed yesterday that this winter will be ‘extraordinarily difficult’ for the NHS, even if there is no surge in infections. He warned that the resurgence of flu and other seasonal viruses would hit healthcare in the coming months.
No10 has plans to roll back restrictions if the roll-out of booster vaccines and jabs up to 12 fails to stem the impact of Covid on hospitals. And ministers had warned earlier that they could not rule out another lockdown as a last resort.
But despite the bleak figures, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today ruled out introducing another lockdown over Christmas, saying there will be ‘no problem’ seeing loved ones around the festive period.
As of today, about 6.5 million people in England are eligible for a booster.
Health and social care workers invited to get the jab were people over the age of 50, those with underlying health conditions, people living in care homes for older adults, and people who live with immunosuppressed people.
People in those groups will be asked to come forward for a third dose of Pfizer Vaccine or a half-dose of Moderna Vaccine — regardless of the jab for their first two doses — at least six months after being double-pocked.
Millions of Britons will receive a single dose of the flu vaccine at the same time as their booster, but in a different arm, after trials found that both jabs were still safe and effective when co-administered.
Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and deputy leader of the NHS Covid Vaccine Program, said: ‘I have already had my vaccine at the local pharmacy and it was really straightforward, so when you get that important invitation 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 unprecedented vaccine rollout.
Boosters are continuing to bolster the wall of defense created by vaccines across the country and will provide vital protection to millions of people – helping to keep the virus at bay.
‘I urge all those who are eligible for a top-up dose, get their dose as soon as possible, to not only protect yourself, but also your loved ones from this virus.’
Vaccine Minister Maggie Throop said: ‘This is a testament to our fantastic vaccination program 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.
‘All eligible people should not delay in getting their job as soon as possible…