Senior health chiefs are urging all elgible people to get their booster jabs to prevent tighter Covid restrictions being implemented at Christmas.
Concerns are already mounting concern over rising Covid infection levels in winter, with Health Secretary Sajid Javid warning that cases could reach 100,000 a day.
The government has insisted the winter Covid Plan B - which includes mandatory use of face masks - would only be activated if the NHS came under “significant pressure”, with NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis saying getting a booster jab will “protect the freedom and Christmas that we have all earned”.
But who is eligible for a booster vaccine, and how do you book one? This is what you need to know.
When can I get my booster jab?
The NHS Covid-19 booster campaign is now underway, with GP-led local vaccination services now in the process of contacting eligible patients.
Letters and texts were sent out to some 1.5 million people from 20 September inviting them to book an appointment and [eople may also be notified by letter or by their GP to arrange a booking.
The JCVI has said people should receive their booster dose at least six months after they received their second coronavirus jab.
From Monday 8 November, the NHS National Booking System will now allow people to pre-book their booster jab a month before they are eligble to receive it.
Everyone aged over 50 and all those most at risk from Covid-19 should get their third jab six months after their second dose.
However, they will be able to book an appointment after five months meaning they won’t have to wait days or weeks for an appointment when they reach the six month milestone.
How do I book my booster jab?
In England, people should receive a letter or a text inviting them to book their booster vaccine dose when they are eligible.
Once you have been invited to book, you can do so online via the NHS national booking system.
You can book your booster jab online if you have been contacted by the NHS and you are either:
- aged 50 and over
- aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts you at high risk from Covid-19
If you have had a positive Covid-19 test, you will need to wait four weeks before booking your booster from the date you had the test.
People can also book by calling 119 or get vaccinated at hundreds of walk-in sites across England without an appointment. Those eligible can use the NHS online walk-in finder to find their closest site.
If you are in Scotland, the NHS inform website features a handy tool which explains how you will be invited for your booster vaccination.
In Wales, you will be contacted by your health board when it is your turn to book your jab. You should not contact your GP to ask about appointments.
In Northern Ireland, the booster programme is underway with residents and staff in care homes being offered a dose, while GPs will be inviting their older patients in first to receive their booster. You should wait until you are contacted to book an appointment.
Can I go to a walk-in centre?
Covid-19 booster jabs are now available at walk-in vaccinations centres across England without the need for appointment.
From 1 November, anyone who is eligible for a booster, and had their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine at least six months ago, can now turn up at one of hundreds of jab sites for their top-up.
NHS England has advised people to use its online walk-in finder to check where their nearest vaccination site is.
The health service said almost every person who is registered with a GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination site.
The walk-in finder website will reveal whether a vaccination centre is offering booster doses, vaccines for 12 to 15 year-olds, or anyone aged 16 and over.
To find your nearest walk-in centre offering booster doses, enter your details on the NHS website.
Which vaccine will I get?
Those eligible for the booster will be offered either a full dose of the Pfizer vaccine, or a half dose of the Moderna vaccine.
These vaccines will be used regardless of which jab individuals had for their first two doses as these have both been shown to provide a strong booster response.
In cases when neither of these vaccines can be offered, due to an allergy for example, the JCVI advises that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be used for those who received this jab for their first and second dose.
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