Spring booster offered to elderly and vulnerable as PM warns Brits will need fourth jab
A fifth of us could have covid right now
Booster jabs will be offered to around 600,000 people in England this week - because apparently, we're "going to need it".
Over 75s, care home residents and the most vulnerable people over the age of 12 will be offered the fourth shot as part of the NHS spring booster programme.
People in England have previously been offered a fourth jab - but only those with severely weakened immune systems.
Invitations offering a second booster are due to be sent to people in England from Monday. Across the UK, around five million people will be eligible.
Speaking at the Tory Spring Conference in Blackpool last week, the prime minister said: "I hope you've all had your boosters. We're getting ready for a fourth jab, because we're going to need it."
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also urged people to "come forward as soon as you are contacted by the NHS".
The stats do show that covid is surging again in the UK. Around one in every 20 people are thought to have covid in England, one in 25 in Wales, one in 14 in Northern Ireland and one in 14 in Scotland, figures from the Office for National Statistics suggested on Friday.
In the most recent seven day period, 12,029 people were admitted to hospital with covid, and 752 people died - again both increases on the seven days of data prior. Though vaccines are still helping to stop severe cases.
All covid travel rules ended on Friday, meaning you no longer have to take a test or fill in a form if arriving in the UK from abroad - even if you're not vaccinated.
In Scotland, where infections have risen for seven weeks in a row, nearly all covid rules have been scrapped today - though face masks will still be required in some indoor places until April. Wales plans to scrap all covid rules next week, while the vast majority of restrictions in England and Northern Ireland were lifted back in February.
From tomorrow, @nhsengland will begin sending invites for a Spring booster jab to:
- Over 75s
- Residents in care homes for older adults
- Immunosuppressed people
You will be contacted 6 months after your previous dose to top up your immunity.https://t.co/AGjEO5UEAC
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) March 20, 2022
Those who are eligible for the booster will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine - though people aged between 12 and 18 will only be offered Pfizer. People will be contacted when it has been six months since they had their last dose.
Scotland and Wales have already launched their spring booster programmes under the same terms. In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health said it expects spring booster vaccinations to be completed in April and May.While the PM saying "we're going to need it" may sound concerning, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said vaccinating these groups is a "precautionary" move and doesn't mean there is any current danger to their health. Their protection from vaccines may simply be waning because they are vulnerable and it has been six months since they were last vaccinated.
Maggie Throup, the government's vaccines minister, told BBC: "We must ensure those at greatest risk of serious illness from Covid are protected and spring boosters will top up people's immunity."
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