More than 600,000 people will be invited for their life-saving COVID jab next week, as the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme spring booster campaign ramps up.
Since rolling out spring boosters last week, more than 470,000 people have come forward for a jab, with hundreds of thousands more booking their slot via the National Booking Service or calling 119 in the last five days.
The NHS is asking people to wait to be invited before trying to book, with the JCVI recommending that eligible people get their vaccine six months after their initial booster for maximum effectiveness.
The 620,000 being invited next week will bring the total called forward to almost 1.3 million with invites being sent by post, text and email depending on patients’ preferences.
As part of the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in NHS history, around 5.5 million people aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster over the coming weeks and months.
People have already taken up the offer in their tens of thousands in order to get protect themselves and their loved ones, including 95-year-old grandad of two, Devraj Jhalam, who was one of the first to get a spring boost last Monday in Slough.
More than 118 million vaccinations, including over 32 million boosters, have been delivered since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial, in Coventry in December 2020.
Dr Nikki Kanani, England’s Top GP and deputy lead for the NHS Vaccination Programme, said: “The incredible NHS covid-19 vaccination programme continues at pace with another 620,000 people being invited for their spring boosters next week – I would urge anyone receiving a letter or message from the NHS inviting them to book in, to do so at the earliest opportunity.
“More than 470,000 people have come forward for a vaccine since the spring booster campaign got underway on Monday, with hundreds of thousands more booking in.
“Over the course of the pandemic vaccinations have been key to helping society get back to normal and allowing us to enjoy time with friends, family and loved ones – and they continue to play a crucial role in protecting us all against covid, so please do book in when invited.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m so grateful to our brilliant NHS staff and volunteers who have sprung into action yet again to rollout Spring boosters to keep the most vulnerable safe.
“Vaccines remain our best line of defence against this virus, and it’s thanks to these protections that we are all able to do the things we love.
“With hundreds of thousands more invites being sent to eligible people this week, its vital to come forward as soon as you can”.
People invited can book in online or by calling 119, which is free from mobiles and landlines. Lines are open every day from 8am to 8pm, and 119 can provide support in 200 languages.
Local NHS teams will be contacting care homes in their patch as they have done previously to arrange for spring boosters for people who are eligible and have been invited.
Recent research from the UK Health Security Agency has shown that the NHS booster programme has helped prevent around 197,000 hospitalisations since mid-December.
Despite this massive booster drive, NHS hospitals have treated more than 100,000 patient with COVID since the start of the Omicron wave.
Meanwhile, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has said the NHS Vaccination Programme met “stretching and unprecedented targets” as it helped save lives and reduce hospital admissions – all while making effective use of public money.
Hundreds of sites including community pharmacies, vaccination centres and hospital hubs are offering spring boosters to those most vulnerable to coronavirus following the updated guidance from the JCVI who advised on an extra spring dose as a precautionary measure.
The NHS has made it easier than ever for immunosuppressed people to get their boosters – they can now show they are eligible by providing either a letter from a GP team or specialist inviting them for a vaccine, a hospital or GP letter about their medication or treatment, or a prescription or medication box with their name and date on it.
It is still important for severely immunosuppressed people who have been advised to have a 3rd primary dose, for example those undergoing cancer treatment, to get this before getting a booster, for maximum protection from COVID-19.