Millions of Brits in their forties can book a booster Covid jab from TODAY and 16-17-year-olds can secure slot for second dose — as Sajid Javid says vaccines will help UK avoid European wave
- Eight million Britons in their 40s are now eligible for booster Covid injections
- Data shows jabs increase protection against symptomatic Covid to above 90%
- Health Secretary said vaccines are best way for UK to avoid wave of infections
Millions more Britons became eligible for Covid vaccines today as the booster programme started accepting bookings for people in their forties.
An extra 8million people aged 40 to 49 who are double-vaccinated can secure an appointment for their third jab for six months after their second dose.
They can do so via the NHS booking service website, or by calling 119. Data shows the third dose tops-up protection against symptomatic Covid to above 90 per cent.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said vaccination was the best way for the UK to avoid being hit by a wave of infections rolling across Europe.
Teens aged 16 and 17 – who previously were only eligible for one dose – can also now book their second Covid vaccine.
Older teens will be given the second vaccine 12 weeks following their first jab because evidence suggests the longer gap reduces the risk of side effects.
Officials had delayed a decision on second doses while they investigated reports of heart inflammation in young people.
So far, more than half of 16 and 17-year-olds have come forward for a first dose of the jab.
Millions more Britons became eligible for Covid vaccines today as the booster programme started accepting bookings for people in their forties (file)
Countries across Europe are being forced to reimpose draconian lockdowns and other social restrictions in response to a fresh wave of the Delta variant.
UK Covid cases rise slightly while infections sweep Europe: Positive tests up 9.5% to 40,004 as deaths drop by two to 61 over last week
Britain’s Covid infections have increased by almost 10 per cent as Sajid Javid urged people to get their booster jabs to ensure the nation can ‘look forward to Christmas together’.
Department of Health bosses reported a further 40,004 cases on Sunday, a rise from the 36,517 reported one week earlier.
The number of people dying with the virus saw a 3 per cent drop, with 61 deaths reported yesterday compared to 63 on November 14, bringing the UK total to 143,927.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 168,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate.
It comes as Europe descended into a third day of violent carnage as tens of thousands of people in Belgium took to the streets to protest against the return of strict lockdown rules aimed at curbing a surge in Covid infections across the continent.
Britain is thought to be benefitting from the fact it released all curbs much earlier than the rest of the continent over summer, which frontloaded infections.
Mr Javid said: ‘Getting your Covid 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.’
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup added: ‘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.’
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) last week approved the booster vaccines to Britons in their forties.
It said people could come forward for them ‘with the confidence that they are safe and effective’.
It comes after official data published today showed Covid booster jabs gave more than 90 per cent protection against symptomatic infection among over-50s.
The UK Health Security Agency — which took over the reigns from the now defunct Public Health England — found that two weeks after getting the top up protection was 93.1 per cent for AstraZeneca recipients, and 94 per cent for those who got the Pfizer shot.
There has not been enough time to measure the effect on hospitalisations and deaths but officials claimed protection is expected to be ‘even higher’.
After two doses of either vaccine, effectiveness against symptomatic disease appears to wane over time.
While experts say vaccine effectiveness against severe outcomes, such as hospital admission, remains high for several months after completing the primary course, researchers have seen greater waning in older adults and those with underlying medical conditions compared with young, healthy adults.