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England’s top GP is urging people to come forward for their booster jab with two million appointments up for grabs over the next week as the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme continues to protect the nation.
The NHS bolstered capacity to roll out boosters at an unprecedented rate as part of a ‘national mission’ to protect the country from the Omicron variant.
Almost 29 million people have had their booster in England already, including over 260,000 people who were ‘boosted’ over New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and 2 January.
The NHS has said there is still plenty of capacity for those who have not yet been able to come forward, for example because they may have had COVID.
As of this morning, there were almost 300,000 slots still available tomorrow, with 175,000 booked and a further 330,000 up for grabs on Thursday.
In total, there are 2,008,483 jab slots available over the next seven days.
NHS staff continued to deliver ‘jingle jabs’ over the festive period with vaccinations taking place over Christmas and the New Year at soup kitchens, stadiums and races courses, and even curry houses and Christmas markets.
There are more than 3,000 vaccination sites operating across the country ready to deliver that life-saving booster to those yet to come forward as well as first and second doses.
Anyone eligible for a first, second or booster jab can book a convenient appointment online over the next week through the national booking service to guarantee their boost of protection. However, people cannot get vaccinated within 28 days of having had the virus.
GP and Deputy for the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, Dr Nikki Kanani, said: “NHS staff and volunteers have pulled out all the stops to roll out the booster delivering back-to-back records in the run up to Christmas, as well as vaccinating people on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, with almost 29 million people having now received the vital additional protection a top-up dose provides.
“There are more than two million appointments available for you to get your booster over the next seven days alone, with more slots popping up all the time, meaning everyone can find a time and place that’s convenient for them. If you haven’t yet had your booster, please do come forward, as we know this provides the best protection from the Omicron variant with trusted healthcare professionals on hand to answer any questions you may have”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “NHS staff are continuing to go above and beyond to deliver the life-saving booster programme, with a further 2 million appointments for jabs up for grabs over the next week after a record breaking festive period.
“As we kick off 2022, make sure you Get Boosted Now to secure the best possible protection from Omicron”.
The NHS in England made history on 8 December 2020 when Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials in Coventry. More than 112 million vaccine doses have been delivered since, including almost 29 million booster doses, protecting more than 43 million people across the country.
GP teams were 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.
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.
Anyone yet to have a first, second or third dose can book in online through the National Booking Service if it has been three months since your last dose, or 28 days since testing positive for COVID.
The NHS is vaccinating in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance.
People aged 12 to 15 can also book their second dose with their families through national booking system or find a slot on the ‘grab a jab’ website.
The online system opened for 12- to 15-year-olds to get their second dose on 20 December, alongside the schools’ offer.