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The NHS is kick-starting a week of walk-ins with a record 1,800 sites now on the Grab A Jab website available for people to conveniently grab their life-saving jab this week as the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Programme continues to protect the nation.
There are more than 1,000 of these sites open on any given day, more than twice as many as the start of December and earlier in the programme, and it means many people are now closer than ever to a walk-in vaccination site and getting protected.
England’s top GP is urging the 6.9 million people who are four or more weeks late for their booster to come forward and get that vital top-up dose this week.
Around 1.5 million people are overdue their booster by six weeks, which is considered “clinically late”.
Since the start of December, more than four million people in England have tested positive for COVID and would have been unable to get their booster for at least 28 days in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, but anyone testing positive before the 20th December is now able to get that vital booster this week.
Health chiefs are keen to remind the public that the booster dramatically increases protection against Omicron and is vital for protecting yourself and your loved ones from COVID and any dangers posed by long COVID, even if you have recently had COVID.
The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in history, has already protected more than 43 million people.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme said: “There are more walk-in sites around England this week than ever before with more than 1,000 locations open every single day as the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme makes it as easy and convenient as possible for people to get protected.
“We know that more than seven million people are overdue their booster by at least four weeks and while many of these people may have had COVID, it is still absolutely crucial that people get their booster after those 28 days have lapsed in order to increase your protection to reinfection and the dangers of long COVID.
“I’d urge anyone yet to come forward for their booster, or their first or second dose, to check where their nearest site is online and get protected now”.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to see so many walk-in vaccination centres open in locations up and down the country – it really has never been easier for people to roll up their sleeves and grab a lifesaving jab.
“The top-up dose serves as a vital line of defence against COVID-19 and particularly Omicron, so if you are overdue your booster, come forward to Get Boosted Now”.
Since the NHS in England delivered the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in the world to Maggie Keenan, the programme has now delivered an incredible 114 million jabs in total, with more than 30 million boosters given out.
There are more than 3,000 vaccination sites across the country in total and jabs have been given at football stadiums, music festivals, places of worship, and even a curry house, as the health service aims to reach as many people as possible.
The NHS’s leading GP is urging everyone who is eligible to get their booster as soon as possible and you can find your local walk-in site through the walk-in finder. You must wait 28 days after testing positive for COVID before getting your next dose. Children are advised to wait 12 weeks.
Since the acceleration of the life-saving programme in November following the emergence of the Omicron, when the JCVI announced the shortening of the period between second and booster jabs to three months, the NHS vaccination programme adapted rapidly by inviting around 700,000 people to move forward their appointment from six months to three, extending opening hours in every community and getting local GP teams to clinically prioritise services to free up capacity.
UK Health Security Agency data demonstrates the great protection two doses offer, whilst not enough to completely stop the surge of Omicron, adding an additional third dose prevents around 75% of people from getting any COVID symptoms.
The NHS is also this week inviting eligible 16- and 17-year-olds to get their booster as well as those at risk between 12 and 15.
Vaccines Minister, Maggie Throup, said: “I am so grateful to the NHS for working incredibly hard to keep a record number of walk-in sites open to the public. I have been saddened to hear of the dreadful consequences that catching COVID-19 has had on some people, including the impact of Long COVID.
“Please, to protect yourself, your families and your communities, pop in to a vaccination centre that is convenient for you to Get Boosted Now. Three jabs offer maximum protection against this horrible virus – don’t leave it too late”.