NHS offers more than 400,000 final chances to get boosted

The NHS is urging those yet to get a covid booster to book one of the hundreds of thousands of appointments still available next week before the offer ends.

The NHS vaccination programme will have appointments available at the 2,800 sites open across the country next week, giving everyone the opportunity to book a booster appointment if they have not already.

So far 15,000 people have booked in for their covid vaccine next week and there are still 391,000 appointments up for grabs before the programme scales down.

Sunday 12 February is the last day of the autumn booster campaign and will also be the final day that 16 to 49-year-olds who are not considered at risk will be able to get a booster following updated JCVI advice, which recommended the offer ends in line with the current campaign.

The JCVI is recommending moving to a more targeted offer to those considered to be at risk of serious illness – as seen with the autumn campaign – and will set out further advice on future campaigns in due course.

It has already advised that there should be another autumn vaccination campaign later this year, as well as a potential spring campaign for the most vulnerable.

More than 17.3 million people have so far come forward for a booster throughout this winter.

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: “There is just one week left of the autumn booster campaign and so if you are eligible for a booster but have yet to take up your latest dose, please do so before the end of next week.

“Whether you have had previous doses or a bout of covid, we know that a booster is the best way to maintain protection against serious illness from covid for yourself and your loved ones, so please do make the most of the offer while it is available and give yourself both protection and peace of mind for the year ahead.

“NHS staff have worked really hard to deliver a combined 38 million flu and covid doses this winter amid record pressures on emergency services, providing crucial protection and keeping thousands out of hospital, and they will be ready to stand up future campaigns with the same dedication and determination once new guidance is set out.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Our phenomenal Covid vaccination programme has saved lives, allowed us to live with Covid and remains our best defence against the virus.

“With just one week to go, I want to encourage anyone who hasn’t had their first booster or if you’re eligible, an autumn booster, to come forward before next Sunday.

“Our hardworking NHS staff and volunteers have done an incredible job getting jabs into arms, and they’re on hand to top up your immunity and keep you and your loved ones protected.”

The NHS covid vaccination programme will continue to run a smaller operation after 12 February, allowing those yet to come forward for first, second or third doses if severely immunosuppressed, to book appointments.

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 health service is prepared to stand up future campaigns once JCVI advice is confirmed by the Government on who will be eligible for covid vaccines in future phases of the programme.