United Kingdom

Invitations for booster jabs will be sent to 1.5million people

Invitations for Covid-19 booster jabs will be sent to 1.5million people in England today as the Government prepares to top-up immunity in frontline workers and vulnerable Britons. 

Text messages urging people to arrange a third jab through the National Booking Service will be sent today while letters will be sent to those who are eligible later in the week.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the booster doses would help 'strengthen the wall of defence across the country' and were an 'important way of keeping the virus under control' ahead of the winter months.

Mr Javid said: 'It is excellent that getting your booster jab has now become even easier thanks to the opening of the National Booking Service to those eligible.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the booster doses would help 'strengthen the wall of defence across the country'

'Booster doses are an important way of keeping the virus under control for the long term and will protect the most vulnerable through the winter months.

'I urge everyone who receives a letter or text to get their jab as soon as possible so we can strengthen the wall of defence across the country that each vaccine brings.' 

Third doses will be rolled out to the top nine priority groups during the initial drive and those eligible include anyone aged 50 and over, people living and working in care homes for the elderly, and frontline health and social care workers. 

All those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and anyone aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group for Covid (who were included in priority groups one to nine during the initial vaccine rollout) will also be eligible for a jab.  

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has said people should receive their booster dose at least six months after they received their second coronavirus jab.

While there is a preference that people should get the Pfizer jab as a third dose, regardless of which jab they were initially given, the JCVI said half doses of the Moderna jab could be used as an alternative.

There are also booster campaigns in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Eligible people will be contacted by the NHS to arrange an appointment, with 4.5million people in priority groups to be invited over the next month  

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the Covid vaccination programme, said: 'The NHS Covid vaccination programme has already prevented 24 million cases and saved more than 112,000 lives.

'As we head into winter we should not drop our guard, so I would urge everyone to come forward and get a booster vaccination when then they are invited.

'Getting a top-up vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this cruel virus.'

The booster rollout is the first phase of the Government's winter plan to avoid another lockdown. 

Third doses will be rolled out to the top nine priority groups during the initial drive

Booster shots are set to be rolled out in descending order from group one — elderly residents in care homes — to nine

Britain recorded another 29,612 coronavirus cases today - a 1.5 per cent increase from last Sunday's 29,173. The death figure stayed exactly the same - 56 for both today and last Sunday

If hospitalisations rise quickly, ministers have warned they could be forced to reintroduce face masks and work from home guidance.

This week a study by Israel's health ministry found over-60s given a booster Covid jab were 20 times less likely to fall severely ill with Covid than those vaccinated with two doses.

The research looked at more than 1.1million Israelis who had been double-jabbed for at least five months.

It found that people given a booster jab were 19.5 times less likely to be hospitalised with Covid than those who were still relying on protection from two doses and 11.3 less likely to test positive for the virus.

Both findings apply to the Pfizer vaccine, which Israel has relied on solely for its coronavirus immunisation programmes.                  

It comes as Britain recorded another 29,612 coronavirus cases yesterday - a 1.5 per cent increase from last Sunday's 29,173.

The death figure stayed exactly the same - 56 for both yesterday and last Sunday.

But Government figures for the total number of cases over the last seven days reveals a 17.7 per cent drop in cases - with the figure for this week standing at 207,368, a decrease of 44,643 from the previous week.

There were 1,003 deaths in total over the last seven days however, representing an increase of 32 (3.3%) when compared to the week prior. 

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