14 million booster jabs administered amid hopes to save Christmas

·3-min read
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine (AP)
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine (AP)

More than 14 million people in the UK have now received their Covid booster jab in the run up to Christmas.

A total of 387,057 boosters and third doses were recorded on Friday, bringing the total to 14,266,368, with more than one million top-up jabs recorded since Tuesday.

The South East, North East and Yorkshire have now recorded more than 1.9 million top-up jabs, meaning they will soon join the Midlands which this week reached the milestone of two million jabs delivered.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The vaccine rollout continues full steam ahead with another incredible milestone achieved.

“14 million people across the UK have come forward for a booster or third dose to top up their protection against Covid-19 this winter.

“Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to ensure we can all look forward to Christmas this year.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously urged those eligible to get the booster to avoid restrictions before Christmas while some European countries have been placed into lockdown due to a surge in cases.

Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson answering questions at a Liaison Committee hearing (PRU/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile as many as 2.7 million Londoners over the age of 16 may not have had their first jab, it can be revealed.

The alarm was raised about the extraordinary number of completely unvaccinated people by the capital’s public health chief, Professor Kevin Fenton.

In Europe, Austria has called a national lockdown and to make jabs mandatory while Germany said it will not rule out a countrywide shutdown.

The UK Government has accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to expand the booster programme to those aged 40-49 meaning millions more people will be eligible from next week.

While vaccines give high levels of protection, experts warn immunity reduces over time particularly for older adults and at-risk groups.

The latest evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies shows 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 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

For the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine, immunity falls from 90% to 65% in the same window.

 (PA Media)
(PA Media)

Meanwhile, protection against hospitalisation falls from 95% to 75% for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech between three and six months after the second dose.

While those numbers may seem to show only modest decreases in protection, experts are quick to point out that a change from 95% to 90% protection against hospitalisation would lead to a doubling of admissions among the vaccinated population.

Last month, clinical guidance was updated to enable boosters to be given slightly earlier to those at highest risk.

For example, care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times can now be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it has been five months since their second dose.

Data from the Office for National Statistics suggests confidence in the vaccine is high, with 94% of those aged 50 to 69 saying they would be likely to get their booster if offered.

The figure rises to 98% for those over 70.

Boosters have also been delivered or booked at every older adult care home in England where safe to do so, with almost nine in 10 care homes already visited.

The Government is encouraging people book their flu vaccine through their GP or a pharmacy as winter approaches.

More than 50.7 million first doses and 46.1 million second doses have been given across the UK.

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