Eligible Britons have a two-week window to get a Covid booster if they want to have maximum protection from the virus on Christmas Day.
The NHS has issued a plea to the roughly 7million — or three in 10 — eligible people who have yet to have the crucial third dose.
Real-world UK data shows protection against getting sick with Covid rises to more than 90 per cent two weeks after the injection. Immunity against hospitalisation and death is even higher.
It means that getting a booster by December 11 will give people ‘very high protection against Covid by Christmas day’, officials said.
Boosters are being offered to everyone over 40, so long as it has been six months since their second dose. But people can book their appointment at the five-month mark.
Figures show 23million people were double-vaccinated against Covid by May 25, roughly six months ago.
Currently 16 million boosters have been administered, suggesting 7million (30 per cent) have still to come forward.
The UK is hoping for a relatively normal Christmas this year after surging Covid cases in the last few weeks of 2020 prompted last-minute lockdown curbs.
Covid boosters are now being offered to the over 40s in the latest expansion of the campaign. Pictured: Doctor Abhi Mantgani administers a Covid-19 vaccine booster to Joanne Coombs at Birkenhead Medical Building in Birkenhead
The fresh plea from the NHS and Government has been backed by 16 health charities representing people with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, and their carers.
The charities represent people who are especially vulnerable to a potential Covid or flu infection, such as those with heart conditions or diabetes, or people with a compromised immune system such as those undergoing cancer treatment.
These organisations will use their contact networks to reach out to vulnerable people people to get their vaccines and reassure them if they have any concerns about getting a jab.
Now EU says Covid boosters should be given to ALL adults
Everyone over the age of 18 in the EU should be given a Covid booster jab to combat the continent’s ferocious fourth wave, the bloc’s public health agency advised today.
In a dramatic U-turn, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said that while over-40s should be prioritised, countries with the supply should look to start moving down to younger age groups.
The ECDC announcement — which comes just two months after it advised against third doses for young adults — is a response to soaring Covid cases and admissions that have forced five countries back into some form of draconian lockdown.
Last night, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that another 700,000 Europeans could die from Covid this winter if the current surge is not curbed.
Dr Andrea Ammon, director at the ECDC, pointed to data from the UK and Israel, which shows people who have had a booster jab have 90 per cent more protection against Covid symptoms, and even higher protection against hospitalisation and deaths.
Europe is currently in the grip of a sustained wave of Covid cases that has prompted countries such as Austria to reimpose lockdown restrictions, particularly for the unvaccinated.
Nikki Joule, policy manager at Diabetes UK, said: ‘It is clear that the pandemic is still posing a very real threat, so it’s incredibly important that people with diabetes stay well and stay out of hospital.
‘Our advice is simple: if you are living with diabetes, then you should take up the offer of a COVID-19 booster vaccine when contacted. The coronavirus vaccines are safe and are saving lives.’
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK added: ‘From our contact with carers, we know that getting the vaccine has not only increased their immunity, it has also brought a sense of relief and decreased stress.’
‘As we head towards Christmas, we know that this can be a busy time, particularly if you’re providing unpaid care to an ill or disabled relative or friend.
‘We encourage any unpaid carers who haven’t yet had their boosters to come forward and get one as soon as they can, to further protect themselves and their loved ones.’
Health secretary Sajid Javid thanked the charities for their support in backing the Covid booster and flu jab campaigns.
‘With winter approaching it’s so important that those who are at risk from the virus are protected in order to keep themselves safe,’ he said.
‘The vaccines are safe and effective and are helping us build a wall of defence against COVID-19. Please come forward for yours as soon as you can.’
The Covid booster campaign was opened to people in their 40s this week, with bookings able to be made online.
The Government is urging eligible Britons to get their jabs following a rise in Covid cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe.
It wants as many people to come forward as possible to both protect themselves and reduce the potential pressure from winter bugs the NHS could be under in the coming months.
Following a rise in cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe, those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.
While off to a slow start since the it launched in September the UK’s Covid booster campaign has rapidly gained ground in recent weeks.
There have been fewer locations offering Covid booster walk-ins and less demand for the jabs themselves from the public compared to the original two-doses that have now been offered to every UK adult.
Covid cases have continued to rise across the UK but deaths and hospitalisations are still trending downwards, official data shows.
Another 43,676 cases were recorded yesterday is, an increase of 14.1 per cent on confirmed positive cases last Wednesday.
And daily Covid fatalities fell by a quarter, with 149 more deaths registered today. It is the fifth day in a row that deaths have fallen.
Meanwhile, 722 Britons infected with the virus sought NHS care on Saturday, the latest date figures are available for, marking a 7.3 per cent drop week-on-week. Admissions are down for the eight day in a row.
Both measurements lag two to three weeks behind the trend in cases due to a delay between a person catching Covid and becoming severely unwell.
Cases have been trending upwards in the UK for the past fortnight after schools went back from the half-term break at the start of the month.
Infections are concentrated among younger age groups, while booster jabs are driving down cases among the over-60s.
The situation is much more serious on the continent with the the World Health Organization warning another 700,000 Europeans could die from Covid this winter.
WHO officials suggested the continent’s death toll was set to spiral from 1.5million to 2.2million by March amid a ferocious fourth wave.
This figure includes 53 countries in Europe, including EU member states, the UK, Kazakhstan and Russia, among others.
If this prediction is correct, it means that Europe is facing a winter only slightly better than last year, despite vaccines now being widely available.
Bodies are already ‘piling up’ on hospital wards in Romania, with Bucharest’s main hospital morgue now almost three-times over-capacity.
The WHO said the new wave of the Indian ‘Delta’ variant, vaccine scepticism and relaxing Covid restrictions were to blame for its gloomy prediction.
Some 66 per cent of people in the European Union are already double-jabbed, and many countries are now rolling out booster doses.
Surging cases have also sent several nations scuttling back into lockdowns and tighter restrictions to curb the spread of the virus.
In a sign of a growing crisis the Netherlands today began moving Covid patients to Germany to help ease pressure on its hospitals.
Which charities are urging their members to come forward and get their jabs?
- African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
- Anthony Nolan
- British Heart Foundation
- British Liver Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- Carers UK
- Diabetes UK
- Epilepsy Action
- Epilepsy Society
- Kidney Care UK
- Kidney Research UK
- Parkinson’s UK
- Rethink Mental Illness
- Sickle Cell Society
- Terrence Higgins Trust