COVID-19 booster jabs to be open for booking a month earlier

·2-min read

COVID-19 booster jabs will be able to be booked a month earlier under a change that comes into effect on Monday 8 November.

Currently, people in England have to wait until six months after their second dose before they are eligible to book their booster jab.

But the change will mean that they can make their appointment after five months, although they will still only be able to actually receive the booster after six months.

The boosters are currently available to those aged over 50 and those deemed most at risk from COVID-19.

More than nine million people have already received their top-up vaccine, something health officials hope will keep them safe over the difficult winter months.

The change to the booking system will speed up the roll-out, meaning people do not have to wait days or weeks after becoming eligible to find a convenient appointment.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter and this change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs.

"This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly help more people maintain protection against COVID-19 as we know immunity will dip over time.

"Please do not delay - come and get the jab to keep the virus at bay."

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Protection from the initial two doses of vaccine has been shown to wane over time, especially for older adults and high-risk groups.

The latest evidence from SAGE shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65%, up to three months after the second dose, to 45% six months after the second dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90% to 65% for the Pfizer vaccine.

Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95% to 75% for AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer.

A change from 95% to 90% protection against hospitalisation would lead to a doubling in the number of hospital admissions among those who were vaccinated, according to the Department of Health.

Early results have shown that the Pfizer booster restores protection back to 95.6% against symptomatic infection.

COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters are free and available from thousands of vaccine centres, GPs and pharmacies.

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