MORE THAN two million people have now received their top-up COVID-19 vaccinations in the Midlands from the NHS in under nine weeks.
The region became the first to hit the milestone after the NHS kicked off the booster programme on September 16, within two days of updated advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
The latest evidence from The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65%, up to 3 months after the second dose, to 45% six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90% to 65% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95% to 75% for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech.
The NHS is now inviting those who had their second dose more than five months ago for their booster, allowing people to book their top-up jab in advance of becoming eligible so they can receive it as soon as they reach six months.
Next week, all people aged 40 to 49 years old who have not previously been eligible will be able to book an appointment for a booster dose following the JCVI’s advice announced this week.
Those who are eligible for a booster dose can now use the NHS online walk-in finder to find the most convenient site to get their top-up without an appointment. People who are eligible can also book an appointment at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119.
Cases of COVID-19 in the over 60s remain high in both the East and West Midlands (rates of 211 and 180/100,000 population respectively). Recent statistics have also showed that the risk of death involving COVID-19 is 32 times greater in unvaccinated people than in those who had received both doses.
Over 17 million vaccines have already been delivered in the Midlands since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.
There are more clinics delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including pharmacies, GP practices and other convenient community sites – almost every person registered with a Midlands GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination location.
Alison Tonge, the NHS England and NHS Improvement director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said:
“It is fantastic to see such strong uptake for the booster vaccine, with over two million people coming forward to book their extra dose and making sure they have as much protection as possible ahead of winter.
“We’re doing everything we can to roll out boosters as quickly as possible, giving vital protection to millions of people. I would urge the one million people who have yet to have their booster vaccination to come forward.
“After another really challenging year, we know people are looking forward to spending time with their families and loved ones at Christmas and having your vaccine will not only protect you but those around you.”
Those who are eligible for a booster vaccine include:
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over (will be reduced to 40 from next week)
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.
The NHS is also offering vaccinations to 12-15 year olds, with parents able to find local sites through online walk-in finder to search for their nearest centre. They can also continue to use the national booking service to book their child’s jab or through the ongoing schools programme.
This week the JCVI advised that young people aged 16 to 17 years who are not in an at-risk group should be offered a second dose of the vaccine which should be given 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose.