PEOPLE living in England will be able to book their coronavirus booster jabs a month in advance under government plans to speed up their rollout.
Currently, people cannot book their top-up vaccines until six months have elapsed since their second dose.
But from Monday, those aged 50 and over, plus those most at risk, will be able to book after five months.
It means they could receive their booster on the day they reach the six-month milestone.
NHS England is introducing the change to accelerate the rate of take-up of booster jabs, to help prolong protection against the virus.
Experts say while two vaccine doses give people high levels of protection, immunity reduces over time, particularly for at-risk groups.
The added concern is that even small dips in vulnerable people’s immunity will affect the NHS’s ability to cope this winter.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said vaccines were the best way to protect people ahead of a “challenging winter”.
He said: “This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly, help more people maintain protection against Covid-19, as we know immunity will dip over time.”
The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) estimates the protection against needing hospital treatment for a Covid infection falls:
- from 95% three months after getting the second doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca to 75% after six months
- from 99% three months after getting the second doses of Pfizer/BioNTech to 90% after six months.
Who can get the booster?
People are eligible for a booster jab in the UK if:
They are aged 50 or over
They are over-16 with a health condition that places them at high risk
They are a front-line heath or social care worker
It must also have been six months (182 days) since their second dose.
Rules about who is eligible for a booster are the same throughout the UK.