The covid-19 vaccination programme has fuelled this country’s journey along the road to recovery and the best way to protect ourselves and those around us is to get vaccinated.
Research from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) estimates that around 192,000 hospitalisations have been prevented by booster doses since mid-December.
We know that immunity to covid-19 begins to wane over time and that older people and the most vulnerable are at the highest risk from this waning. We know that infections and hospitalisations from covid-19 are on the rise across the whole of the UK, as they are across Europe.
Last month, we accepted advice from the experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to offer a spring booster to those at the greatest risk. The JCVI has advised that doses should be offered to anyone who is eligible around six months after their last vaccine dose.
From Monday 21 March the NHS has started offering a spring booster jab to people aged 75 and over, residents in care homes for older adults and people aged 12 years or older who are immunosuppressed. Hundreds of visits to deliver vaccinations in care homes for older adults are planned in the coming weeks.
By the end of this week almost 1.3 million people will have been invited for their spring booster.
We have already seen a tremendous response with more than 308,000 people having received their fourth dose since the appointment system opened.
Over 5.5 million people will be eligible to get protected through this spring campaign over the coming weeks and months.
The NHS will contact people directly to let them know when it is their turn and we are asking people to wait until they are invited before they book their appointment. It will prioritise those whose clinical need is greatest, starting with those who have had the longest gap since their last dose and then working through the eligible cohorts to invite people who have waited for less time.
Everyone who is eligible will be offered a top-up over the spring and early summer and we will be keeping under close review whether these spring booster doses should be offered more widely.
People who are eligible are urged to take advantage of the protection that is on offer. Everyone across the country, no matter if this is their first jab or spring booster, is encouraged to come forward to ensure that we can all continue to work together to stay healthy and protect the NHS.