Invitations to book a COVID booster jab will be sent to one and a half million people this week as the NHS vaccination programme enters a new phase ahead of winter.
Texts allowing people to arrange a top-up through the National Booking Service will start going out from Monday 20 September, with letters also being sent later this week.
Those who have had their second vaccine at least six months ago are eligible for the booster jab to increase their protection.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the COVID vaccination programme, said: “The NHS COVID vaccination programme has already prevented 24 million cases and saved more than 112,000 lives.
“As we head into winter we should not drop our guard so I would urge everyone to come forward and get a booster vaccination when then they are invited.
“Getting a top-up vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this cruel virus”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is excellent that getting your booster jab has now become even easier thanks to the opening of the National Booking Service to those eligible.
“Booster doses are an important way of keeping the virus under control for the long term and will protect the most vulnerable through the winter months.
“I urge everyone who receives a letter or text to get their jab as soon as possible so we can strengthen the wall of defence across the country that each vaccine brings”.
The NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, has already delivered more than 77 million vaccinations.
The booster jabs invitations follow fresh guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation last week.
The first booster jabs were delivered less than 48 hours after it was issued.
Once they receive their invite, people will be able to book an appointment online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination at one of the convenient vaccine sites across the country. People that aren’t able go online can book by phoning 119.
Millions more invites are set to be issued in the coming days and weeks.
Booster jabs are effective for topping up protection for people who have had both of their jabs and are at least six months after their second dose.
Hospital hubs have already started vaccinating frontline health and care workers as well as identifying other eligible patients for their booster vaccine with GP-led local vaccination services already contacting eligible patients.
The NHS kickstarted the booster campaign just 48 hours after the government accepted the CMO’s advice following the JCVI’s advice, with maternity support worker Catherine Cargill one of the first to take up her booster at Croydon University Hospital.
The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan received the first COVID jab outside of a clinical trial in December 2020.
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.
The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme will ramp up over the coming days as more vaccination centres and pharmacy-led clinics come online.
In line with JCVI advice people should receive either one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine, which means for some people their booster dose may be different from the vaccines they had for your 1st and 2nd dose.
People could also be offered a booster dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if they cannot have the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
Local health teams will prioritise care home residents and staff who are eligible and offer a booster jab by the beginning of November.
Those who are eligible for a booster include:
- those living in residential care homes for older adults
- all adults aged 50 years or over
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
- adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The health service and partners will also begin vaccinating children aged 12 to 15 in line with UK Chief Medical Officers advice shortly.
Over 2,000 sites have taken part in the largest vaccination programme in NHS history since it launched including mosques, cinemas, and sports grounds.