The NHS is starting to deliver COVID booster jabs to people in eligible groups across the east of England, as the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in health service history moves to the next stage.
In line with new advice set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on Tuesday 14 September, the NHS vaccination programme is now inviting eligible people, who had their second COVID jab at least six months ago, for a top up.
Hospital hubs have started vaccinating frontline health and care workers as well as identifying other eligible patients for their booster vaccine immediately, with GP-led local vaccination services to follow in the coming days.
For example, Arthur Simper, 87, and his wife Barbara, 83 who were the first patients in the East of England to receive a Covid jab back in December 2020 at Milton Keynes University Hospital, have just received their booster vaccines. Barbara said: “We both received our booster vaccines at Saxon Court in Milton Keynes yesterday, and it was completely painless, the process was so smooth and the staff were lovely!
“We think everyone who is invited for their booster jab should go and get it done as soon as possible – we all care about protecting our family, friends and loved ones and it’s the best thing you can do to protect them from covid.”
Also, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, GPs have already begun vaccinating those eligible, starting with health and social care frontline staff and local care home residents. Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust are ramping up too, inviting eligible members of the public for their booster vaccines at Basildon Towngate Theatre, while the NHS in Suffolk and north east Essex are kicking off their booster campaign in Colchester United’s Stadium.
Full vaccination rollout begins this week, as more vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led sites come online following final checks, giving people further protection from the virus ahead of winter.
People do not need to contact the NHS to arrange their booster vaccine, the NHS will be in touch when they become eligible for the jab with around 4.5 million people in priority groups eligible for a booster over the coming weeks.
People will get a call or text from their local GP-led site to get the jab, or will be invited by the National Booking Service.
Booster jabs are effective for topping up protection for people who have had both of their jabs from, at the very least, six months on after their second dose.
Some of those in the original nine priority groups will not be eligible for the top-up until the new year.
Those who are eligible include:
Local areas have already been identifying and vaccinating people aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed with a third jab following updated guidance from the JCVI in early September.
The booster programme will be delivered through existing vaccination sites including pharmacies, hospital hubs, GP practices and vaccine centres.
Local NHS areas will be prioritising care home residents and staff ensuring they are offered a vaccine by the beginning of November.
In the nine months since the largest vaccination programme in NHS history began, 77 million vaccinations have been delivered, with four in five adult already receiving both doses of protection.
Catherine O’Connell, director of commissioning and executive lead for the vaccination programme for NHS England and NHS Improvement East of England, said: “Our hardworking staff have been gearing up to deliver the autumn booster programme, to give further protection to healthcare and social care workers and those most at risk from the virus.
“Now that the advice has been set out by the JCVI and once the relevant checks are in place, the NHS will invite you for your booster vaccination if you are eligible. There is no need to contact the NHS – we will be in touch with you when it is your turn to get your booster vaccine – at least six months on since your last dose.
“The fast preparations of staff to get ready for boosters comes on the back of our biggest vaccination drive in health history which has delivered more than 9.2 million vaccinations across the east of England.
“Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you from COVID – so please do come forward for this top up of protection when you are invited.”
Over 2,000 sites have taken part in the largest vaccination programme in NHS history since it launched including mosques, cinemas, and sports grounds.
In line with JCVI advice people will receive either one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Latest statistics published by Public Health England show the impact of the largest ever NHS vaccination programme with around 112,000 lives saved thanks to the programme.
The NHS has been planning for the roll out of a potential booster programme so that it could deliver any approved booster jabs as quickly as possible dependent upon final advice from the JCVI.