More than 2 million so-called “top up” COVID-19 vaccine booster jabs have been delivered to people in priority categories in England within three weeks, the UK health service announced on Saturday.
The National Health Service (NHS) said people in the high-risk categories have been quick to take up the offer of the booster jabs ahead of winter, with a total of 2.08 million “top ups” administered so far.
Currently, around 4 million people in England are eligible for a booster over and above their two COVID-19 vaccine jabs – including health and care workers, those with underlying health conditions and people aged 50 and over.
“It’s fantastic to see that just three weeks into the booster campaign, more than 2 million people have been quick to get their top up in protection ahead of what will be a busy winter period for the NHS,” said Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS England.
“Thanks to the incredible efforts of NHS staff who have been vaccinating at mosques, sports grounds, and community centres, those who are eligible and most at risk from coronavirus have been able to get their booster shot. I have received my booster shot ahead of winter to protect myself and those around me – I would urge others to do the same – it is quick, effective and provides really important protection against the virus,” she said.
People who are eligible for a booster shot will be invited for their vaccine at least six months on from their second dose, in line with independent expert advice. Therefore, the number of people who are eligible changes daily as more people reach the six-month mark.
Millions of people have already been invited by text, email and letter encouraging them to book in through the national booking service.
The NHS kickstarted the booster programme on September 16 and has sent out more than 4 million invites to those who are eligible.
More than 80 million vaccinations have been delivered, and well over four in five adults have had both doses since the NHS in England delivered the first COVID-19 vaccine dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine on December 8, 2020.
In line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, eligible people will receive either one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine as a booster shot.