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People aged 50 and over, as well as clinically vulnerable groups and healthcare workers, are eligible for an extra dose six months after their second vaccine. Hundreds of thousands more text messages and letters are being sent out in the coming days.
More than 850,000 people have booked a booster since the booking system opened last week, though data on the number of jabs administered has not yet been published.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “This week we will be inviting a further million people most at risk from Covid to get this crucial top-up to their protection. I encourage anyone who has received an invite to come forward for their booster jab as soon as they can and protect themselves and their loved ones this winter.”
Meanwhile, a £388million boost to protect care home residents and staff this winter was announced last night. It includes £237million for infection control measures and £126million for testing costs to ensure residents can be visited safely.
The remaining £25million will be used to maximise uptake of both Covid-19 and flu jabs. GPs will be permitted to vaccinate care home staff not registered at their practice.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Protecting care home staff and residents has been a priority throughout the pandemic. As we move into winter I am committed to ensuring they have the resources they need.”
“This additional funding demonstrates how we will continue to support those delivering and receiving care. Everyone deserves to be cared for with dignity and respect and our wider reforms will continue to work towards our aim of a world-leading social care system.”
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said: “The social care workforce have continued to deliver high-quality care in the most challenging circumstances over the past 18 months, showing true dedication and professionalism.”
“We will ensure both staff and those who receive care continue to be protected from Covid, as well as other illnesses, this winter.”
In line with the social care effort, GPs have been asked to prioritise older care home residents and staff for booster jabs so they receive one before November 1.
Research has suggested it is safe for people to be given their flu and Covid-19 inoculations at the same time. The ComFluCOV study, which tested possible combinations of two Covid vaccines and three flu jabs in 679 volunteers, found there was no negative impact on immune response or any side effects when the jabs were given in the same appointment.
Some 97 percent of people who took part said they would be happy to have both vaccines together.
Yesterday there were a further 36,480 Covid-19 infections confirmed in the UK and 137 deaths within 28 days of a positive test. Public Health England’s weekly report found cases were stable during the last week.
Cases were highest among those aged 10-19, with a seven-day average of 1,084 cases per 100,000 population, compared to just 84.4 cases for those aged over 80.
Meera Chand, Covid-19 incident director at Public Health England, said: “Case rates remain high across the country, especially among young people. The best way to protect yourself and others is to get the vaccine – please make sure to get it if you are eligible.”
THIRD DOSE ‘NIGHTMARE’ FOR WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM PATIENTS
Delays and confusion around third Covid vaccine doses for people with weakened immune systems are putting patients at risk, a charity warns.
A month ago, experts said people who are classified as “immunocompromised” should qualify for the extra jab. The recommended third jab is part of their primary course of vaccination and separate to the UK’s booster programme.
But a survey by Kidney Care UK found almost nine in 10 had not yet received it or had an appointment scheduled. Of those, 51 percent had had problems when contacting their GP to arrange it. People with weakened immune systems may not respond as well to vaccines.
Steve Harrison, 38, who had a kidney transplant in December last year, said: “Arranging the third vaccine has been a nightmare. Neither my GP or consultant knew about it.
“I sent them both the letter that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation had already sent out and was told a week ago that it would be arranged. I chased it again this week but I still haven’t been identified as needing the third dose.”
Steve said he thinks he has been “forgotten”, adding: “I feel like I am moving backwards.” Kidney Care UK’s Fiona Loud said: “This lack of clarity is causing a huge amount of stress, anxiety and frustration.”
The NHS wrote to trusts and GPs yesterday asking them to ensure they had identified and contacted all eligible patients.
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