The plea comes amid rising cases across Europe with new data released this week further highlighted how important the booster jab is.
The first real-world study on the effectiveness of booster vaccines by the UK Health Security Agency showed top-up jabs boost protection back up to over 90% against symptomatic COVID-19 in adults aged over 50.
The findings shows that two weeks after receiving a booster dose, protection against symptomatic infection in adults aged 50 years and over was 93.1% in those with Oxford/AstraZeneca as their primary course and 94.0% for Pfizer-BioNTech.
This means people who have had their booster vaccine by December 11 will have very high protection against Covid-19 by Christmas Day. Following a rise in cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe, those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.
Following new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) this week, the vaccination programme has extended, with over 40s eligible for boosters and people aged 16 and 17 able to book a second jab.
Those eligible for a booster can book an appointment in advance - five months after their second dose - to be vaccinated as soon as they reach the six month mark, and the National Booking Service opens tomorrow to those over 40 and young people aged 16-17.
Almost 6 in 10 young people aged 16 to 17 have already had a first dose in England, protecting them from COVID-19, reducing transmission and helping to reduce the amount of missed education. Second doses will top-up this protection even further during the winter months.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting your Covid-19 booster vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter and will help reduce the pressure on the NHS. While the government is continuing to monitor a wide range of data to ensure the country remains protected, we have very sadly seen a surge in cases in parts of Europe.
“The most important thing we can do to stop a similar rise in this country is get the jab – so please get your vaccines as soon as you can so we can keep the virus at bay.”
A total of 14 million people in the UK have already received their booster vaccines, securing crucial protection ahead of the winter. While more than 50 million first doses (88.2%) and 46 million second doses (80.2%) have been given across the UK.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “We must protect the gains we have made through our vaccination programme this winter, and I urge everybody to help make this happen
“Please get your boosters when eligible, and get your first and second doses if you haven’t already, to secure vital protection during the winter to keep you and your loved ones safe.”
Vaccines give high levels of protection but immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, so it is vital that vulnerable people come forward to get their booster jab ahead of the upcoming festive period.
The latest evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65 per cent, up to three months after the second dose, to 45 per cent six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90 per cent to 65 per cent for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 per cent for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer/BioNTech.
Officials have warned that while the vaccines effectiveness against severe disease remains high, a small change can generate a major shift in hospital admissions.
Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “In the run up to the festive period and what we know will be a challenging winter, I would encourage everyone who is eligible and invited to take up the offer of a life-saving booster as soon as possible to protect yourself and those around you.”
People can book by calling 119 or get vaccinated at hundreds of walk-in sites across the country six months after their second dose without an appointment. Those eligible can use the NHS online walk-in finder to locate the most convenient site.
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