The government has made fresh calls for people to take up the Covid-19 booster jabs after the emergence of the new Omicron variant.
Cases of the new strain, first detected in South Africa, have been found in both England and Scotland, and are thought to be spreading through community transmission.
The booster vaccination programme has now been extended in a bid to prevent further infections, as it is feared the variant could reduce the protection offered by current vaccines.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, Chair, COVID-19 immunisation, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said: “Having a booster dose of the vaccine will help to increase our level of protection against the Omicron variant.
“This is an important way for us to reduce the impact of this variant on our lives, especially in the coming months.
“If you are eligible for a booster, please take up the offer and keep yourself protected as we head into winter.”
When can I get my booster vaccine?
New JCVI guidance now recommends that booster doses be given no sooner than three months after people have received their second jab.
This cuts the previous six month gap between doses to just a three month wait.
Those who are severely immunosuppressed should be offered a booster jab no sooner than three months after completing their primary course of three doses.
The change has been brought in to help speed up the rollout and cut down the waiting times so that people can get their jab as soon as they are eligible.
Booster doses will be rolled out in order of descending age groups, with all adults aged between 18 and 39 now eligible to receive a third dose. However, priority to be given to older adults and those in an at-risk group.
Those aged 40 and over are currently already eligible to get a booster vaccine.
Boosters will also be offered to people aged 16 years old and over with a severely weakened immune system.
How do I book an appointment?
Booster doses will be rolled out in order of descending age groups and should be given no sooner than three months after the second jab.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the NHS will start inviting people to book an appointment “at the appropriate time”, with guidance due to be set out “in the next few days”.
In England, people should receive a letter or a text inviting them to book their booster once they are eligible.
Once you have been invited to book, you can do so online via the NHS national booking system, or by calling 119.
Walk-in vaccination sites are now also open for booster doses in England. To find your nearest site, simply check the NHS online walk-in finder to book a slot.
Those who are in Scotland can use the tool on the NHS inform website to check 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, GPs will be inviting their older patients in first to receive their booster. You should wait until you are contacted to book an appointment.
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