Johnson issues vaccine call to arms ahead of winter

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has issued a call to arms ahead of winter, urging everyone over 50 to get their booster jabs when they get the call.

The booster programme is well underway with over four million booster doses already administered. The National Booking Service has had its busiest week of booster bookings, with nearly half a million jabs booked over 20-21 October alone.

NHS England has said that half of eligible people aged 50 and over have already received their booster jab in England, as the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history continues. More than 4.5 million people aged 50 and over – 4,547,927 people – have received a top up in protection in less than six weeks as part of the vaccination programme. More than five million people in total have received their booster, including those who are clinically vulnerable.

Young people aged 12-15 are now able to book their jabs through the National Booking Service, with appointments available at 90 vaccine centres across the country from next week, with more to come next month. The national effort seen during the first phase of the vaccination programme has already saved around 130,000 lives, with almost 95 million doses delivered across the UK.

As set out in the autumn and winter plan, the winter months will lead to the increased transmission of viruses. Recent studies suggest protection against death falls from 95 per cent to 80 per cent for AstraZeneca after six months, and from 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer.

The booster programme is designed to top up this waning immunity for those most at risk over the winter months. A 15 per cent drop in efficacy could lead to many more avoidable deaths and cases of severe illness from coronavirus.

The National Booking System is now open for 12-15s, with millions of letters to be sent to parents and guardians of children aged 12 – 15 over the coming weeks inviting them to book the vaccine online or by calling 119. A one dose programme is underway for all 12 to 15 year olds, protecting young people from the catching and transmitting the virus, preventing them from becoming seriously ill, and preventing further disruption to education.

Johnson said: “Vaccines are our way through this winter. We’ve made phenomenal progress but our job isn’t finished yet, and we know that vaccine protection can drop after six months. To keep yourself, your loved ones, and everyone around you safe, please get your booster when you get the call.

“We can and will beat this virus but only if we listen to the science and look out for each other. This is a call to everyone, whether you’re eligible for a booster, haven’t got round to your second dose yet, or your child is eligible for a dose - vaccines are safe, they save lives, and they are our way out of this pandemic.”

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