The NHS COVID vaccination programme will today start inviting eligible people to come forward for their life-saving Spring booster jabs.
People aged 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed will be able to book from 7am as the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history enters a new phase.
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.
The NHS will invite people to arrange a jab through the national booking service when it is their turn. It can be accessed online at nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119.
Around five million people will be able to get a Spring booster during the campaign and this week, the NHS will be contacting over 600,000 people to invite them to book their jab.
Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy SRO for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “Sadly, we are still seeing large numbers of people seriously unwell in hospital with COVID so it remains vital that those most at risk come forward when they are invited to do so.
“The response so far from the public to the largest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history has been incredible, with more than nine in 10 people aged 75 and over getting their initial booster. The NHS COVID vaccination programme is once again ready to get people protected, so when you are invited please do come forward for your spring dose”.
Recent research from the UK Health Security Agency has shown that the NHS booster programme has helped prevent around 157,000 hospitalisations since mid-December.
Despite this 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.
NHS health chiefs are expecting high uptake of spring boosters amongst people aged 75 and over after 4.5 million of them got their top up jab over autumn and winter, and have recruited additional call handlers for the 119 service to help people book their vaccine appointment.
Calls to 119 are 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.
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.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Spring boosters will help top up the immunity of the elderly and the most vulnerable to ensure they are protected and will help us continue to live with this virus.
“Thanks to the NHS for rising to the challenge yet again to get people boosted. Please come forward as soon as you are contacted”.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “We are absolutely determined to protect those most vulnerable to COVID.
“Please take up the offer of a spring booster as soon as you are contacted by the NHS – it will protect you and ensure we can continue to enjoy our freedoms”.
So far, the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health history has delivered over 117 million vaccinations, including over 32 million boosters.
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.
The NHS in England made history when it delivered the world’s first approved COVID-19 vaccination to Maggie Keenan aged 91 in December 2020.