People aged over 40 and in high-risk groups are being invited to book their Covid booster jabs three months after their second dose from today, NHS England has announced.
The online vaccines booking system will be updated this morning, meaning ‘almost seven million’ people will be newly able to book a jab, it said.
The over-40s will be able to book their top-up jab a month in advance – two months (61 days) on from their second dose – ready to have the jab at the three-month mark (91 days), NHS England added.
People can book their jab online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119 and GP practices ‘are also inviting those who are eligible’, it said.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘We are boosting our booster programme to get more jabs in arms more quickly and from today, millions of people over the age of 40 in England will be able to pre-book their booster jab two months after their second dose, a month ahead of them becoming eligible for their top up vaccine.
‘We are halving the gap that people have to wait to get their booster to three months – prioritising those most at risk of serious illness and strengthening our collective defences in light of the Omicron variant, as this virus goes on the advance this winter.’
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup added: ‘Our Covid-19 vaccination programme has been a huge success and we have one of the highest uptake rates in the world – more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far and more than 20 million people have received a third dose or booster giving them vital protection ahead of winter and in light of the Omicron variant.
‘We are working around the clock to boost the booster programme by opening up the booking platform, bringing onboard military personnel, opening extra pharmacy sites, hospital hubs and pop-up sites with thousands of invites sent out for volunteers to support the drive.’
The rollout comes exactly a year since the world’s first Pfizer jab was delivered by the NHS.
It comes as the NHS has also today launched a campaign to recruit ‘tens of thousands’ more vaccinators and volunteers for the expanded booster programme, NHS England said.
It reiterated that it will invite those most at risk first and work through age groups in stages and that it ‘intends to offer every eligible adult an opportunity to book in for their booster jab by the end of January’/
It also recommended that a booster dose can be given three months after completion of the initial course of vaccination – a reduction from previous guidance of six months.
And patients who are immunosuppressed should be offered a booster dose, three months after their third jab, which had completed their initial vaccination course.