The NHS is encouraging people to come forward for their COVID booster before the offer, part of the biggest and most successful programme in health history, ends next month.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has today advised that, thanks to the success of the programme, the offer of an initial booster dose should end when the current autumn campaign ends, which will be on Sunday 12 February.
Anyone yet to come forward for their COVID booster is being urged to do so before the end of the campaign.
The government has accepted the JCVI advice, which recommends that the booster offer for all 16 to 49-year-olds who are not considered at risk should end at the same time as this autumn’s campaign.
This means that Sunday 12 February will be the last chance for anyone who has been invited for a COVID booster to take up their offer, until future campaigns are agreed by the JCVI and government.
It comes as the JCVI is recommending moving to a more targeted offer to those considered to be at risk of serious illness.
The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme has delivered 144.5 million doses of the vaccine since Maggie Keenan became the first in the world to receive an approved jab.
NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening Steve Russell said: “Over the last two years the NHS COVID vaccination programme has administered almost 145 million doses and as a result, the public have widespread protection from COVID-19 and its variants – a remarkable achievement.
“Following the decision by the government to accept JCVI advice today, I would encourage anyone who has not yet had their COVID booster to book an appointment in the next couple of weeks and make the most of the offer available.
“Once the NHS receives updated guidance for the next phase of the vaccination programme, our fantastic NHS staff will make sure the vaccine is as accessible and convenient to those eligible as it has been in each of the previous campaigns”.
Health Minster Maria Caulfield said: “Our phenomenal COVID vaccination programme has saved lives, allowed us to live with COVID, and eased pressure on the health service.
“I want to encourage anyone who hasn’t had their booster jab – whether it’s your first booster or if you’re eligible for an autumn booster – to come forward before Sunday 12 February. It will top up your immunity and keep you and your loved ones protected”.
The JCVI will set out further guidance on who will be eligible for COVID vaccines in future phases of the programme, such as any spring campaign as well as next autumn’s, in due course.
The JCVI has advised that over the course of 2023 the primary course offer for healthy 16 to 49-year-olds should be withdrawn in favour of a more targeted approach.
The NHS will continue to operate a smaller scale vaccine offer from mid-February onwards to ensure those eligible for first and second doses can still get their jabs.
The NHS is also prepared to move quickly to roll out a potential spring campaign, as well as another autumn campaign later this year, and will set out operational plans once further guidance is received.