Over one million people have received a spring booster in just over two weeks since the latest phase of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme kicked off.
Since 95-year-old grandad Devraj Jhalam became one of the first people to receive their latest dose on 21 March, 1,023,750 spring boosters have been delivered.
As part of the biggest and fastest vaccination drive in NHS history, England’s top GP is today urging the most vulnerable patients to book in for their spring boost without delay when they receive their invite.
The call comes as the latest ONS coronavirus infection survey showed that infection rates have continued to rise, including in older groups and in every part of the country in recent weeks, with 1 in 13 people infected in the week to 26 March.
The NHS is continuing to invite people for their fourth dose as they become eligible, in line with JCVI guidance and more than half a million (570,000) more people will be invited next week.
Around two million invites have been sent so far to those who are eligible which includes people aged 75 and over, adult care home residents and those who are immunosuppressed aged 12 and over.
Appointments can be booked quickly and conveniently on the NHS website and people that can’t go online can book by phoning 119. Local NHS teams are also offering vaccinations in care homes with hundreds of visits planned in the coming weeks.
Since the NHS made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in December 2020, more than 119 million vaccinations, including over 32 million boosters, have been delivered.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS covid-19 vaccination programme said: “Thanks to the efforts of our staff, it is fantastic that more than one million people who are most vulnerable to Covid have been quick to take up their offer of a spring vaccination in just over two weeks, giving them the best protection from the virus.
“As infections continue to rise, it is vital that those who are most vulnerable act on their invite as soon as possible, with over half a million more due to land on doorsteps next week.
“Those who are eligible can book in online or ring 119 to sort an appointment or visit a convenient walk-in centre to ensure they get the maximum possible protection against Covid-19.”
Steve Russell, national director for vaccinations said: “The NHS Covid vaccination programme began rolling out spring jabs just over two weeks ago to those who are more at risk from COVID to ensure they’re given the best possible protection
“NHS teams in vaccination centres, primary care and high street pharmacies have pulled out all the stops to get their communities protected and it is a testament to their fantastic efforts that in such a short space of time more than one million people have had a booster.
“The NHS will continue to invite people when they are due for a vaccination so please come forward when we contact you”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “In just over two weeks, we have made fantastic progress with our Spring booster roll out – it is great to see more than one million eligible people have received their vital top-up dose.
“NHS staff and volunteers have made it easier than ever for the most vulnerable to stay protected, with the option to book online, call 119 or visit a convenient walk-in vaccination centre.
“When you are invited, please get your jab without delay”.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Director of Immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency said: “Vaccination continues to prevent a high number of hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 and remains the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves.
“It is extremely encouraging to see such a high number of those eligible taking up their offer of a Spring booster. The NHS vaccine programme is there to protect you and I urge you to take up the offer of the booster as soon as you are invited to do so”.
People aged 75 and over, care home residents and those who are immunosuppressed have been able to get their spring booster since 21 March, when the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history expanded once again.
Recent research from the UK Health Security Agency showed that the NHS booster programme has helped prevent around 197,000 hospitalisations since mid-December.
Meanwhile, a report from the National Audit Office 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.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has advised a spring jab should be offered to those most vulnerable to COVID-19 as a precautionary measure around six months on from their previous dose.
Thousands 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 –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. Immunosuppressed people can also self-declare on the NBS.