Who is eligible for the spring Covid booster jab? Groups who can get 4th vaccine explained - and how to book

The spring Covid booster campaign is being rolled out as infection levels climb to record highs in the UK

More than 600,000 people will be invited for a Covid booster jab this week as infection levels climb to record highs.

Around one in 16 people in private households in England – or 3.5 million people – are likely to have had Covid in the week to 19 March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), up from one in 20, or 2.7 million people, in the previous week.

Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)
Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster (Composite: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

The latest figures mark the third week in a row that infections have increased.

It is thought that the steep rise in cases across much of the UK is being driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant, also known as ‘Stealth Omicron’, which is more transmissible.

The figures are further evidence that Covid is becoming more prevalent again and come as the number of people in hospital with the virus continues to increase.

Who is on the priority list for the fourth vaccine dose?

Spring boosters were rolled out last week and more than 470,000 people have come forward for a jab so far, NHS England said.

Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster over the coming weeks and months, with over 600,000 to be invited to book this week.

The spring booster campaign is being rolled out as immunity from vaccination declines over time and many older adults received their most recent dose in September or October last year.

As these individuals are at higher risk of severe coronavirus, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended an extra spring dose to be given six months after the last vaccine to help boost protection.

The following groups will be prioritised for a booster jab:

  • adults aged 75 years and over
  • residents in a care home for older adults
  • individuals aged 12 years and over who are immunosuppressed

Spring boosters have been offered to the same groups in Scotland from 7 March, with those eligible able to get their jab at least 24 weeks after their last vaccine dose.

Over 75s, older care home residents and people aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed have been able to book a booster in Wales since mid-March.

The same groups will be able to book in Northern Ireland from next month, with the country’s Department of Health saying it expects the spring booster vaccinations to be completed in April and May.

What does immunosuppressed mean?

If you are immunosuppressed it means that you have a weakened immune system.

This may be due to a particular health condition or because of medication or treatment that suppresses the immune system.

People who are immunosuppressed, or have specific other medical conditions, may have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, including coronavirus.

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, it’s vital to come forward as soon as you can.”

How do I book my booster jab?

The NHS is asking people to wait to be invited before trying to book their booster dose.

The JCVI recommends that those who are eligible get their vaccine six months after their initial booster for maximum effectiveness.

Once invited, people can book an appointment online via the NHS National Booking System, or by calling 119.

Alternatively, those eligible can get their spring booster at a walk-in centre. You can search for your nearest walk-in centre by entering your postcode on the NHS website.

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