NHS urges hundreds of thousands to have a ‘jabby New Year’

The NHS COVID vaccination programme is contacting hundreds of thousands more people this week urging them to book a booster and have a “jabby New Year”.

Some 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters are being sent to people who have who have not yet had their vital top-up vaccine, encouraging them to get boosted now.

There are more than a million appointments available through the national booking system between now and January 1.

The latest call for people to come forward comes after NHS staff delivered 244,078 vaccinations on Monday, including 209,626 boosters – the second-highest Bank Holiday total recorded.

Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “The NHS COVID vaccination programme continues to break records with almost 250,000 people jabbed on Monday, the second-highest number for a Bank Holiday so far.

“We are contacting hundreds of thousands of people this week urging them to ensure they have maximum protection in the face of the threat from Omicron.

“Experts are clear that two doses does not give the protection we need from the new strain so everyone eligible should get boosted now and enjoy a jabby New Year.

“There are more than one million appointments available before January 1 and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends as we head in to 2022, whether it be a first, second or booster dose”.

The NHS’s top doctor stressed that people who do not get vaccinated risk serious illness or death.

Research from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) found that at the start of last month around three in five patients in London’s intensive care units had not had a jab, and that was rising.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The evidence is clear. Not getting vaccinated against COVID puts you at greater risk of serious illness and death.

“The latest ICNARC research shows that three in five people in intensive care in London had not had a jab and, while that does not necessarily tell us exactly what is going on in hospitals now, it tallies with what we are hearing from staff on the frontline.

“Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends.

“It also means that you are much less likely to end up in a hospital bed that could otherwise be used to treat someone else”.

The NHS COVID vaccination programme has not stopped over the festive period, with more than 214,000 ‘jingle jabs’ reported across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, including 184,445 boosters.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We have been able to gather with friends, family and loved ones this Christmas thanks to our life-saving vaccines, treatments and testing.

“Over 214,000 people made the vaccine part of their traditions this year, and the NHS will continue to pull out all the stops and send hundreds of thousands of invites urging people to Get Boosted Now.

“Thank you to the NHSE and volunteers for their tireless work getting jabs in arms, and for the public for continuing to roll up their sleeves”.

The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan received the first Pfizer jab outside of clinical trials in December last year, and in the year since hard-working staff and volunteers have delivered more than 110 million doses, including 27.5 million boosters across England.

More than seven in 10 eligible people aged 18 and over have now received their top-up protection against COVID-19, and over half of all people in their thirties who are eligible have also had their life-saving booster.

All eligible people aged 18 and over can now use the National Booking Service to make an appointment to get their jab at one of the thousands of centres across the country.

Vaccination sites are operating 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 operations.

Every adult is eligible for a jab three months after their second following updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on 29 November.

In line with JCVI guidance the NHS cannot vaccinate people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 days, and people in this group should book their appointment for once 28 days has passed.