Almost 7 million extra over 40s are now eligible for booster programme in England as gap between doses is halved, in response to the new Omicron variant of the virus.
Following advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), everyone who is currently eligible - including those aged 40 and over, health and social care workers and those at increased risk from the virus due to health conditions - will be able to book their jab from three months after their second dose.
Read more: New COVID-19 variant under investigation
‘Since we learnt of the new Omicron variant a few days ago, our strategy has been to buy the time we need to assess it while doing everything we can at pace to strengthen our defences,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid.
‘Our best weapon to fight the virus is to get as many jabs in arms as possible. That is why I asked the JCVI to urgently look at expanding and accelerating the vaccination programme in light of the Omicron variant. Thanks to their rapid advice we are now able to put our booster programme on steroids – and protect even more people even more quickly.’
To speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country. More than 3,000 sites are already open in England - more than double the number in February.
Read more: Wes Streeting appointed Shadow Secretary for Health and Social Care
‘We have set an ambitious target to offer booster jabs to all adults in England by the end of January, while ensuring those most vulnerable to the virus will continue to be prioritised for their booster, and having the gap between second doses and boosters,’ added Mr Javid.
‘This is a national mission and we all have a role to play – so step up, roll up your sleeves, and get protected when the time comes.’