Health secretary Sajid Javid is urging people to get their booster jabs in order to “avoid a return to restrictions” this Christmas.
In an effort to speed the roll out vulnerable and elderly people will now be able to book their jabs a month early – five rather than six months after their second dose. This week 3m over 50s will become eligible to receive their third jabs, adding to the 10m people who have received a booster vaccination so far.
“We know immunity begins to wane after six months, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable, and booster vaccines will top-up their protection to keep people safe over the winter,” said Javid in a statement.
“This truly is a national mission. If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas,” he added.
Health Secretary Javid urged everybody who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster or flu vaccine to take up the offer as a matter of urgency.
Government statistics reveal that 40 per cent of over 50s and 30 per cent of over 80s are yet to receive their third vaccine dose.
It comes as top UK scientists warned that elderly and vulnerable people who have had two jabs are starting to die from coronavirus again because immunity is waning. Young and healthy patients are protected for longer after receiving two doses of the vaccine.
The chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency Dr Susan Hopkins urged people to come forward for their booster jabs to top up their immunity.
In comments made on the Andrew Marr show she said “we’re still seeing deaths in mainly the unvaccinated population… but increasingly, because of immune waning effects, there are deaths in the vaccinated group as well.”
When asked who is most at risk Dr Hopkins said “it is particularly the older age groups, so the over-70s in particular, but also those who are clinically vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, and have underlying medical conditions.”
Yesterday over 30,000 people tested positive for Covid in a single day while almost 1,200 people have died from the virus this week. Almost 80 per cent of the UK population has received at least two vaccine doses.