Every eligible adult can book their booster jab from today as the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination programme seeks to protect the nation from the new Omicron strain of the virus.
People aged 18 to 29 can now use the national booking service to make an appointment to get their jab at one of thousands of centres across the country.
Every adult is eligible for a jab three months after their second following updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation on 29 November.
NHS staff are prioritising booked jabs so the best way to ensure you get your booster is to make an appointment.
With around 8.5 million people aged 18 to 29, the expansion means that more than 3.3 million people will be newly eligible and able to book their extra protection from today.
Dr Emily Lawson, Head of the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination programme, said: “The NHS COVID-19 Vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, is once again pulling out all the stops to protect the country from this cruel virus.
“Millions more people can book their booster from today and NHS staff are working flat out to set up more sites and put on extra appointments.
“This is by far the most complex but critical phase of the biggest and most successful vaccination drive and so with latest data showing that the booster is our best hope of protecting people against the new variant, it is vital people come forward as soon as possible by booking their slot online to guarantee that vital jab”.
On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency published data showing two doses of a COVID vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron. A third booster prevents around 75% of people getting any COVID symptoms.
As the most complex and challenging phase of the rollout expands even further and faster, the NHS has asked every local area to dramatically increase the number of appointments they have in place for vaccinations.
In response to the threat of the new variant, vaccination sites have been asked to operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week wherever possible and in every community there should be slots available at least 16 hours a day – with some sites extending to 24-hour operation to make it easier for people who work shift patterns.
More new sites are opening all of the time with Chester Cathedral opening for vaccines from tomorrow and football stadiums, including Wembley opening at the weekend.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are turbocharging the vaccine rollout to ensure as many people as possible can get boosted now as we continue our fight against the Omicron variant.
“From today, every adult in England who had their second dose two months ago can pre-book an appointment for that vital top-up jab.
“Please do not delay – getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do this winter”.
The NHS launched the COVID-19 Vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, with Margaret Keenan receiving the first jab on 8 December 2020, and in just over a year the NHS has administered over 102 million doses of the vaccine.
NHS staff will also be redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible and military aid will be in place in every region across the country to support NHS staff with planning for the extra vaccinations.
Saturday was a record day for booster vaccines with 483,000 top ups reported in England in just one day.
Since the booster rollout started in September, more than 20 million doses have already been delivered in England.
GP teams will be asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up maximal capacity to support the COVID-19 Vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care.
People who have yet to have one vaccination are also urged to come forward as it has never been more important that they book now.
The NHS is asking people to be patient and consider the herculean effort we are asking of our staff.