As the NHS continues to ramp up its booster jab programme for Covid-19 vaccinations, more than one million appointments have been made inside a week.
Since Monday November 29, 2021, the NHS recorded 1,077,514 bookings for the vaccine booster jab.
The health service’s National Booking Service saw between 180,000-350,000 bookings per day through the week for the top-up jab, which is being encouraged to be taken up by the population amid the emergence of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
The significant uptake in booster jab vaccination appointments, after eligibility was opened up to a wider subsection of the population, brings the total of people already booked in to receive their booster in December 2021 to a total of 3.6 million.
Already 16.2 million top-up jabs have been delivered in England since the NHS began rolling out the booster programme in September, including 1.3 million people aged 40-49; the youngest age category before the recent wider opening up of the programme.
Now, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends in its guidance that all adults who have received two doses of the vaccine receive a booster three months on from their second dose, and guidance has been sent to the NHS on how the updated JCVI guidance will be implemented, particularly around prioritisation during this new complex phase.
The NHS intends to offer everyone eligible for their booster jab by the end of January 2022, contacting each group when it is their turn to get vaccinated, with more newly-eligible groups set to be called forward to book through the National Booking Service – in line with capacity – when the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has updated the Patient Group Direction, allowing more people to get their booster.
Almost 3,000 vaccination sites across the country, including pharmacies, GPs, sports stadiums and places of worship, are preparing to assist with the rollout of the top-up jab programme.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS Deputy Vaccination Lead, said: “While we are just three weeks away from the Christmas break and very much looking forward to spending time with loved ones, the emergence of the new variant is obviously a concern for us all and we are seeing hundreds of thousands of people booking to receive their life saving protection every day.
“NHS staff are continuing to pull out all the stops to boost the most vulnerable as quickly as we possibly can.
“Last year, more than 17,000 people spent Christmas Day in hospital with Covid-19 and whilst this year we can expect things to be much better because of the huge success of the vaccine programme, it remains vital that people get their boost of protection against the virus.
“My message to those who are currently eligible for the booster – anyone over 40 as well as well as those with health conditions, and health and care workers – is please do come forward for your vaccination.
“Whether it is for your first, second, third, booster or flu vaccination, I would urge everyone to come forward to give yourself and your loved ones vital protection and peace of mind”.