Spring Covid booster jab: vaccine to be offered to elderly and vulnerable from April

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NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell warned that Covid can still ‘cause serious illness and hospitalisation’

Care home residents will be the first to receive the spring Covid-19 booster jab from Monday (3 April). Around five million people in total are eligible for a booster up until the end of June, including those aged 75 and over and anyone aged five and over who is immunosuppressed.

While the care home programme of boosters rolls out across England, all other eligible people will be able to book their jab online from April 5, with the first appointments available the week commencing April 17. Millions of people will be sent their initial invitations through the NHS app, where they can also book their appointment.

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Text messages and letters will be sent to those without the app or who are not regularly using it.

NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “As a society we are learning to live with Covid but, for many, it is still a virus that can cause serious illness and hospitalisation, and so it is still really important that those at greatest risk come forward and boost their protection in the coming weeks.

“There are still around 8,000 people in hospital with Covid, according to the latest data, and the NHS has now treated more than one million Covid inpatients since the pandemic began.

A Covid-19 booster jab will be offered to the elderly and most vulnerable people this spring (Photo: Getty Images)A Covid-19 booster jab will be offered to the elderly and most vulnerable people this spring (Photo: Getty Images)
A Covid-19 booster jab will be offered to the elderly and most vulnerable people this spring (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

“So if you are over 75 or you have a weakened immune system, please come forward as soon as possible to book a Covid vaccine this spring so you can enjoy summer with peace of mind.”Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Our successful vaccination programme has helped us all to live with Covid, saved thousands of lives and protected the most vulnerable from serious disease. We’re committed to giving vulnerable people the protection they need from the virus, so I want to encourage those who are 75 or over or who have a weakened immune system to book their booster jab from Wednesday.

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“It’s quick and easy and will give the protection you need for the months ahead.”

The offer for anyone to get a first Covid jab will end on June 30, with more targeted seasonal campaigns likely in the future.

Earlier this year, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said the spring booster campaign can include vaccination with the Pfizer, Moderna, Sanofi/GSK jabs. The Novavax jab will be available for use only when alternatives are not considered clinically suitable and children under 12 will be offered a children’s formulation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The vaccine people receive will depend on local supply.

The jab will be offered to those who are eligible around six months after their previous dose, NHS England said, with the booster campaign in England running from 17 April to 30 June.

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Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI’s Covid-19 committee, said: “Vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 and the spring booster programme provides an opportunity for those who are at highest risk of severe illness to keep their immunity topped up.

“This year’s spring programme will bridge the gap to the planned booster programme in the autumn, enabling those who are most vulnerable to be well protected throughout the summer.”

Registered Nurse Laura Hastings administers a covid booster to Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor Care home on September 5, 2022 (Photo by Lesley Martin - Pool/Getty images)Registered Nurse Laura Hastings administers a covid booster to Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor Care home on September 5, 2022 (Photo by Lesley Martin - Pool/Getty images)
Registered Nurse Laura Hastings administers a covid booster to Agnes Taylor, 93, at Victoria Manor Care home on September 5, 2022 (Photo by Lesley Martin - Pool/Getty images) | Getty Images

A surge in the virus in the run-up to Christmas saw infections peak just below three million at the end of December. The figure then dropped for much of January before rising again in recent weeks. The latest increase is being driven by the Omicron variant BA.2.75, which now accounts for more than three quarters (79.5%) of sequenced infections in the UK.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “Covid-19 is still circulating widely, and we have recently seen increases in older people being hospitalised.

“It is important those at highest risk of severe illness do not become complacent and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to come forward once the booster programme starts.”

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