The NHS has started delivering COVID booster jabs to people in eligible groups from today, as the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history moves to the next stage.
In line with new advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on Tuesday 14 September, the NHS vaccination programme will now invite eligible people, who had their second COVID jab at least six months ago, for a top up.
Hospital hubs have started vaccinating frontline health and care workers as well as identifying other eligible patients for their booster vaccine immediately, with GP-led local vaccination services to follow in the coming days.
Full vaccination rollout will begin from next week, as more vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led sites come online following final checks, giving people further protection from the virus ahead of winter.
People do not need to contact the NHS to arrange their booster vaccine, the NHS will be in touch when they become eligible for the jab with around 4.5 million people in priority groups eligible for a booster over the coming weeks.
People will get a call or text from their local GP-led site to get the jab, or will be invited by the National Booking Service, which will start issuing invitations from next week.
Booster jabs are effective for topping up protection for people who have had both of their jabs from at the very least six months on after their second dose.
Some of those in the original nine priority groups will not be eligible for the top-up until the new year.
The booster programme will be delivered through existing vaccination sites including pharmacies, hospital hubs, GP practices and vaccine centres.
Local NHS areas will be prioritising care home residents and staff ensuring they are offered a vaccine by the beginning of November.
The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan received the first COVID jab outside of a clinical trial in December 2020.
In the nine months since the largest vaccination programme in NHS history began, 77 million vaccinations have been delivered, with four in five adult already receiving both doses of protection.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said: “Alongside one of our busiest summers in the NHS, our hardworking staff have also been gearing up to deliver the autumn booster programme, to give further protection to healthcare and social care workers and those most at risk from the virus.
“Now that the advice has been set out by the JCVI and once the relevant checks are in place, the NHS will invite you for your booster vaccination. There is no need to contact the NHS – we will be in touch with you when it is your turn to get your booster vaccine – at least six months on since your last dose.
“The fast preparations of staff to get ready for boosters comes on the back of our biggest vaccination drive in health history which has delivered more than 77 million vaccinations across the country.
“Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID – so please do come forward for this top up of protection when you are invited”.
Catherine Cargill, a maternity support worker at Croydon University Hospital, said: “I’ve just had my booster vaccine, my Pfizer vaccine, and I have had it ahead of the winter season to make sure I am protected, to make sure I can carry on working, so I can carry on spending time with my family and carry on with my studies.
“I would definitely want to encourage you to get your booster shot when you are invited to do that”.
Those who are eligible include:
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
Local areas have already been identifying and vaccinating people aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed with a third jab following updated guidance from the JCVI in early September.
Over 2,000 sites have taken part in the largest vaccination programme in NHS history since it launched including mosques, cinemas, and sports grounds.
In line with JCVI advice people will receive either one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is brilliant to see that the first booster jabs are being rolled out today – thanks to the phenomenal efforts of the NHS who continue to work tirelessly to help us fight COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable.
“We know vaccines save lives and with every jab our wall of defence across the country gets higher, with more than 112,300 lives saved and over 24 million cases prevented in England alone.
“I urge everyone who is eligible to come forward for their booster when invited, to prolong the protection that the vaccine offers those most at risk as we approach the winter months”.
Latest statistics published by Public Health England show the impact of the largest ever NHS vaccination programme with around 112,000 lives saved thanks to the programme.
The NHS has been planning for the roll out of a potential booster programme so that it could deliver any approved booster jabs as quickly as possible dependent upon final advice from the JCVI.
On Monday, the government accepted the advice of the four chief medical officers to offer a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine to all healthy 12 to 15-year-olds. The NHS is working with partners and the School Age Immunisation Service to deliver this with children due to start getting the lifesaving jabs in schools from next week.