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GPs can administer Covid boosters to 16-17s from this week


relaxed vaccine rules


All eligible teenagers aged 16-17 can book their Covid booster jab from this week, NHS England has announced.

Around 40,000 teenagers became eligible on Monday as the national booking service opened to the cohort, NHS England said.

It will send invitations out this week encouraging them to have a top-up jab by booking an appointment online or finding their nearest walk-in site, it added.

More in this age group will be able to get their Covid booster in the coming weeks once they reach three months since having their second dose, it said.

This comes as the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last week launched a campaign to encourage younger people to get boosted, as only 57% of eligible 18- to 34-year-olds in England have had their top-up jab.

This compares with more than 80% of eligible adults in England who have so far had a booster, including more than nine in 10 eligible over-50s, it said.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said: ‘Thanks to the tireless dedication of the NHS, our booster programme has been a phenomenal success and allowed us to enjoy the festive season safely with loved ones.

‘Omicron has spread rapidly across the UK and we’re doing everything we can to keep schools, sixth forms and colleges open as face-to-face teaching is so important.’

Almost 890,000 16-17s have had their first dose since the vaccination programme opened to the age group in August, with more than 600,000 now having received their second jab, NHS England said.

According to JCVI guidance, 16- and 17-year-olds can’t be vaccinated within 12 weeks of a positive Covid test.

The JCVI recommended last month that all 16-17s, as well as 12-15s who are clinically vulnerable, a household contact of an immunosuppressed person or themselves ‘severely immunosuppressed’ and having had a third primary dose, should be offered a Covid booster jab.

Previously, the JCVI only recommended boosters for clinically vulnerable 16- to 17-year-olds.

Booster jabs for 5-11s and vulnerable 12-15s are also due to begin this month.

Meanwhile, NHS England yesterday announced that GP-led vaccination sites can extend the shelf life of certain batches of the Pfizer Covid vaccine – which is the recommended vaccine for children and teenagers – that are nearing expiry.