Almost 700,000 invited to book earlier booster appointment

Texts have been sent to 690,000 people today (Wednesday 22 December) inviting them to book an earlier slot in December for their booster vaccine, as the race against the virus continues at speed.

The messages, being sent by the NHS, will inform people that they can book an earlier appointment for their booster jab by using the online booking service.

People will be able to see the next available slots at all local sites before cancelling their original appointment.

The move comes alongside record numbers of boosters delivered again over the past week, with 3,891,298 reported in the week between December 11 and 17 – an increase of 68% on the previous week.

A ‘blockbooster’ weekend followed, which saw more than 1.5 million booster jabs – 830,403 top-up doses were registered on Saturday alone, an all-time record 24 hour period.

The 1,556,598 booster doses recorded over Saturday and Sunday far outstrips the next highest delivery weekend, seen on December 11 and 12, with the booster blockbuster 48 hours seeing 90% more top-ups registered.

A further 809,192 top-up jabs were reported yesterday (Tuesday December 21) – an 48% increase on the previous Tuesday.

There are almost 700,000 slots still up for grabs across the country this week as more appointments are being added all the time, and NHS chiefs are urging people to “get boosted now”.

In just over a year since Maggie Keenan received the first approved Covid-19 vaccine in the world, the NHS has administered almost 108 million jabs as part of the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history.

Recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows two doses of the vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but suggest a booster significantly increases protection against the variant.

Dr Emily Lawson, director of the NHS Covid-19 Programme, said: “The NHS is leaving no stone unturned in order to get as many people as possible protected from this virus and so today, we are reminding people that they can bring their appointment forward so they can get their boost of protection quicker.

“In a week of records for boosters, with more than 750,000 delivered in one day yesterday, we want even more people to get protected for Christmas.

“So there is no need to delay – when you get your text, come forward and get boosted now”.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The COVID-19 booster programme is providing hundreds of thousands of people every single day with vital protection from the virus.

“Following the emergence of the new Omicron variant, the booster programme has been turbo-charged with everyone over the age of 18 now being able to book their booster three months after their second dose.

“I urge everyone eligible to take advantage of our accelerated programme and get their booster booked in as soon as possible, to top up your protection for the new year. Get Boosted Now.”

The NHS is urging everyone who is eligible – three months on from their second jab – to get their booster as soon as possible.

In line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, the NHS can’t vaccinate people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 days for coronavirus and people in this group should book their appointment once 28 days has passed.

Every eligible adult can now book in for their life-saving jab online and given some sites remain busy, the NHS is encouraging people to book in to guarantee their slot.

Appointments continue to be available over the festive period.

The NHS has outlined detailed plans to accelerate the COVID-19 booster programme with extended opening hours as part of plans to protect the nation against the new Omicron variant.

More pop-up sites will be coming online with local areas looking at the most convenient sites for their communities – from trucks and buses in parks, and cathedrals to football stadiums and leisure centres.

There are now around 3,000 sites across the country, which includes double the number of hospitals offering jabs to the public – going from 30 to 71 in two weeks.