Bookings set to open for over-40s booster jabs and teenager second doses
Covid is still very much with us, as recent UK statistics and the major wave of coronavirus hitting Europe have shown.
In a bid to tackle waning vaccine immunity this winter, health officials and the Government have already started a booster jab programme and have opened up Covid vaccines to teenagers.
From next spring, children as young as five might also get some form of the Covid jab - if leaked documents seen by The Sun are to be believed.
Given the current situation, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Covid booster vaccines will now be available to those aged 40 and over, while 16 and 17-year-olds will also get second doses.
So, if you’re in these two age groups, when can you book your next Covid jab?
Here’s what you need to know.
Covid booster jab bookings for over-40s in England will open from 7am on Monday (22 November) via the NHS website or by calling 119.
Those who are eligible for their next vaccine can also consult the NHS online walk-in finder to see their nearest walk-in vaccination centre.
You will be able to book an appointment if six months have passed since you received your second dose.
NHS England has estimated around 500,000 people are currently eligible, while more than a million 40 to 49-year-olds can pre-book their appointments from Monday.
The health service said a further 1.5 million invites will be sent to this age group in the coming weeks.
16 and 17-year-olds
As with those aged 40 and over, 16 and 17 year-olds can also book their second dose appointment from Monday.
These appointments will only be available to teenagers in England.
NHS England believes almost 200,000 teenagers are currently eligible to have a second jab.
Why has the Government extended the booster vaccine programme?
According to the Government and health officials, the key reason why more doses of Covid vaccine are being offered out to over-40s and teenagers is waning immunity.
There is also a degree of concern about the wave of infection continental Europe is currently battling.
Last week, England’s deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam outlined the state of immunity in the UK.
He said that while vaccines have saved “countless lives and helped restore our freedoms in an unprecedented way”, it is clear “protection will wane over time after the first two doses of a primary course – that is especially so in older adults and those with risk conditions”.
Professor Van-Tam said the waning is also beginning to show in the 40 to 49 age group, something he expected to increase in the absence of booster vaccines.
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he believed booster and second doses would keep the Covid surge in Europe “at bay” and would allow people to “enjoy Christmas safely”.
Mr Javid, who had his booster jab earlier in November, said, “Getting your Covid-19 booster vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter and will help reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“While the Government is continuing to monitor a wide range of data to ensure the country remains protected, we have very sadly seen a surge in cases in parts of Europe.
“The most important thing we can do to stop a similar rise in this country is get the jab – so please get your vaccines as soon as you can so we can keep the virus at bay.”
As of Friday (19 November), more than 14 million boosters and third doses have been administered in the UK, the Government said, with more than one million top-up jabs recorded since Tuesday.
Reporting by PA