The most vulnerable Britons are missing out on their third jabs, with one GP branding the scheme ‘a dog’s dinner’, so why is the Covid booster programme failing?

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Last week The Mail revealed on Sunday that hundreds of thousands of UK most at-risk patients are at risk of missing a critical third Covid jab because many NHS staff did not know they needed one.

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On 1 September, health chiefs advised that half a million Britons with certain diseases affecting the immune system would need three jabs instead of two.

The issue has become confusing because the same Covid vaccine is used for the so-called ‘third primary dose’ – to give additional protection to those who have compromised immunity – and the ‘booster’ for all healthy over 50s. are being offered to, whose security by their two jabs may fade.

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The main difference is in clinical need, and therefore timing. Official guidance is that the third primary dose should ideally be given eight weeks after the second jab. Conversely, the booster should be given no earlier than six months after the second jab.

For example, in transplant patients and people with blood cancer, two jabs offer less protection, but three produce better results. Just to add to the confusion, these patients will also need a booster at a later date.

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After our article was published, NHS England issued a strict deadline to GPs and hospital doctors: every high-risk patient must be invited for their third vaccine by 11 October. That was last Monday, according to several letters sent to us, some patients are still waiting.

On 1 September, health chiefs advised that half a million Britons with certain diseases affecting the immune system would need three jabs instead of two, but the roll out has been confusing for both GPs and patients.

Margaret Keenan, pictured right, was the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine in December last year.  In September, he got his third booster jab with Nurse May Parsons, who gave him his first shot.

Margaret Keenan, pictured right, was the first person to receive a coronavirus vaccine in December last year. In September, he got his third booster jab with Nurse May Parsons, who gave him his first shot.

For transplant patients and those with blood cancer, two jabs offer little protection, but three produce better results.  Just to add to the confusion, these patients will also need a booster afterwards.

For transplant patients and those with blood cancer, two jabs offer little protection, but three produce better results. Just to add to the confusion, these patients will also need a booster afterwards.

One, a cancer patient who is currently undergoing chemotherapy has received ‘no advice or communication’ from his GP or cancer specialists about further investigations.

Another, who is suffering from chronic blood cancer, said booking a third pocket has proved impossible. ‘We called our GP surgery last week and were told they are not doing any vaccinations and call 119 [the NHS coronavirus call centre],’ she wrote. ‘We called 119 and were told that GP surgery should order a third vaccine, so we called GP surgery back and were told they had no idea about this. So I still haven’t got an appointment and to be honest I don’t think it’s good enough.’

The sentiment is the same for many – readers are furious to learn that their doctors are not aware that a third jab is necessary.

Doctors have described the situation as ‘dog’s dinner’. A GP told The Mail on Sunday: ‘It’s a complete mess. The third primary dose is still a complete blind spot, and yet, at the same time, completely healthy adults are getting boosters.’

But the major theme among readers is confusion about who is eligible for what. According to guidance from NHS England, all 500,000 patients with conditions affecting the immune system – or those taking immune-suppressing drugs – should be offered a third dose. This includes blood-cancer patients, those undergoing organ or stem-cell transplants, people with immune deficiency diseases, and patients taking certain types of immune-suppressing drugs.

GPs and patients have described the situation as chaotic, with no clear direction about who should be given a booster jab and when they are eligible - with claims that healthy adults are treated with immuno-compromised transplant recipients and blood cancer fighters. The dosage is available at the cost of Rs.

GPs and patients have described the situation as chaotic, with no clear direction about who should be given a booster jab and when they are eligible – with claims that healthy adults are treated with immuno-compromised transplant recipients and blood cancer fighters. The dosage is available at the cost of Rs.

People who live with arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and even asthma may fit into the latter group.

Some readers were surprised by this list, believing that they were entitled to a third primary dose because they are ‘medically extremely vulnerable’ to diabetes or heart disease. In fact, these patients do not qualify because for them, two doses of the jab are highly effective, according to the latest studies. However, they are eligible for a booster shot.

Your COVID-19 questions answered

Q: Will we have to pay for lateral flow tests soon?

a: Not now, but the plan to charge the public for the rapid test is going on.

Last month Health Secretary Sajid Javid laid out his Covid plan for autumn and winter planning. Under the plan, lateral tests to control the spread of the virus will be free to access ‘in the coming months’. This is because COVID cases are expected to increase as the weather cools and people spend more time indoors, where the chances of infection increase.

The government worries that the NHS could again be put under pressure due to increased Covid hospitalizations due to a rise in cases combined with a bad winter flu season.

But the plan also revealed that universal free provision of lateral flow tests would be phased out ‘at a later stage’, meaning ‘individuals and businesses using the tests would bear the cost’.

The decision has been criticized. Paul Whiteman, general secretary of senior teachers’ union NAHT, said: ‘Removing free access to Covid tests, while cases are still high, would be reckless. Nor can schools bear the cost of examinations for all their students and families.’

A: Are we seeing the impact of booster jabs yet?

NS: Not now. According to the latest NHS England figures, more than a third of Britons who are over 80 have been offered a booster dose of the Covid vaccine.

Despite this, hospital admissions are increasing in this age group.

Similarly, Covid deaths, which are stable across most age groups, have been rising steadily in recent weeks into their 80s.

Booster jabs are expected…

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