England’s top doctor is reminding people who had COVID-19 over Christmas to get boosted now if they haven’t already done so, as the biggest and fastest NHS vaccination programme continues at pace.
In December, more than four million people in England tested positive for COVID and would have been unable to get their vaccine for at least 28 days, in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance.
More than five million reminder texts have been sent by the NHS this week urging people to come forward and get protected from the virus.
New NHS data shows there are 6.3 million people who are overdue their booster by six weeks or more.
More than 10 million people have had their boost in protection since the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health service history opened up to every adult on December 15, and England’s top doctor is urging millions more to come forward for the best protection from the virus.
The latest data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows shortly after getting a booster, you are 85% less likely to end up in hospital than if you are unvaccinated.
Jabs have been given at football stadiums, music festivals, places of worship, mobile buses, and even a curry house, as the NHS aims to reach as many people as possible.
NHS National Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Everyone would like to see the back of COVID and as things begin to return to normal it is important we don’t lose sight of what will protect you from the virus.
“If you were one of the millions of people who tested positive in December and were unable to get your booster, it is time to come forward for that vital vaccination 28 days on from catching COVID.
“More than six million people are overdue their booster by at least six weeks, and while some had to delay because of a coronavirus infection it is still absolutely crucial that people get their booster in order to increase their protection to reinfection and the dangers of long COVID.
“The evidence is clear, vaccination provides the best protection for you and your loved ones against coronavirus, so I urge anyone yet to come forward for their booster – or their first or second dose – to check where their nearest site is online and get protected now”.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “I am so grateful to our wonderful NHS staff and volunteers for their heroic work in getting over 37 million booster jabs in arms.
“But there are still millions of people yet to come forward – if you had COVID-19 more than 28 days ago, please come and get your booster vaccine as soon as you possibly can.
“Recovering from the virus provides you with some antibodies, but it is still absolutely crucial everyone receives their first, second and booster doses of the vaccine for maximum protection. Don’t delay any further – Get Boosted Now”.
More than five million COVID vaccine reminder texts, including more than four million for booster jabs, have been sent by the NHS this week, with more than a million being sent to people aged 16 years and over to remind them they are eligible for a second jab.
A total of 2.4 million people are receiving a first booster reminder, 1.7 million a second booster reminder, and 180,000 booster first invites are going to people aged 16 and over.
Four in five eligible people aged 16 and over have received their boost in protection against COVID-19, with more than 31 million top-up doses delivered in total since the booster programme rolled out in September.
Hard-working health service staff and volunteers have given more than 115 million vaccinations across England since the NHS made history just over a year ago with the first COVID-19 vaccine given outside of clinical trials.
The NHS is making it as easy as possible for people to come forward, with a record 1,800 sites now on the Grab A Jab website for people to conveniently grab their life-saving jab.
There are more than 1,000 of these sites open on any given day, more than twice as many as the start of December and earlier in the programme, and it means many people are now closer than ever to a walk-in vaccination site.
People can also book their appointment online through the national booking service or by calling 119.
In line with JCVI guidance, the NHS cannot vaccinate people aged 18 and over within four weeks of a positive COVID-19 test, and 12 to 17-year-olds must wait 12 weeks (84 days) after a positive COVID-19 test.
Those aged 12 to 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.
This starts from the date you had symptoms, or the date of the positive test if you did not have any symptoms.