Hundreds of thousands of teens to get boosted on NHS

Every eligible 16 and 17-year-old will be able to book their vital booster jab online from tomorrow (Monday) as the fastest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history continues to expand.

Around 40,000 teens will be eligible for their top-up dose when the national booking service opens to them on Monday, with more able to get boosted in the coming weeks as they reach three months since their second jab.

Invites will be sent out this week encouraging people in this group to book their appointment through the online booking service, calling 119, or by finding their nearest walk-in site as soon as they can.

Since the vaccination programme rolled out to this age group in August, more than 889,700 teens – seven in 10 people aged 16 and 17 – have had their first dose.

More than 600,000 in this age group have had their second jab.

Previously, boosters were only recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for clinically vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds who are most at risk from COVID-19.

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

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the NHS Vaccination Programme, said: “The NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme is expanding once again to offer eligible young people aged 16 and 17 the chance to book their boosters through the online booking service from tomorrow, with walk-in sites also available across the country, as the biggest and fastest vaccine drive in health service history continues at pace.

“COVID has caused so much disruption for so many families over the past two years, affecting young people’s lives and education, and getting vaccinated protects them, their family and their friends, letting them stay at school and continue socialising.

“We know that the best protection against coronavirus is to get vaccinated and I’d urge everyone, whatever your age, to come forward and get that vital top-up as soon as it is possible”.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “More than 4 in 5 adults in England have already been boosted, helping to protect them from severe illness and reduce the pressure on the NHS in the face of Omicron.

“We’re now extending the programme to 16 and 17 year olds so they can top-up their immunity this winter to keep themselves and their friends safe.

“We can learn to live with COVID-19 if everybody comes forward for their vaccines and Gets Boosted Now”.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “Thanks to the tireless dedication of the NHS, our booster programme has been a phenomenal success and allowed us to enjoy the festive season safely with loved ones.

“Omicron has spread rapidly across the UK and we’re doing everything we can to keep schools, sixth forms and colleges open as face-to-face teaching is so important.

“I encourage every young person who is eligible to Get Boosted Now to protect yourself, your friends and family”.

Hardworking NHS staff and volunteers have delivered more than 114 million doses since the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme started in England in December 2020, including more than 30 million top-up doses.

Since the NHS in England made history by delivering the first COVID-19 vaccination outside of clinical trials, jabs have been given at football stadiums, music festivals, places of worship, and even a curry house, as the health service aims to reach as many people as possible.

In line with JCVI guidance, the NHS cannot vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds within 12 weeks (84 days) of a positive COVID-19 test.

Those aged 16 and 17 and considered at high risk from COVID-19 must wait four weeks (28 days) from the date of a positive COVID-19 test before getting any dose of the vaccine.