The NHS vaccination programme aims to protect the nation against the Omicron variant and forms part of the biggest and fastest vaccine programme in health service history. NHS chiefs are urging people to not delay their booster and book their jab in the run up to the Christmas break.
The national booking service will open up to everyone aged 18 and over from Wednesday this week, following on from all those in their 30s and above being offered online bookings from yesterday.
The NHS is prioritising bookings for boosters and is urging people to book a slot to guarantee their jab. Some vaccination sites may offer a walk-in service for 18s and over from today if they have spare capacity.
As the most complex and challenging phase of the rollout expands even further and faster, the NHS has asked every local area to dramatically increase the number of appointments they have in place for vaccinations.
Opening hours for vaccine centres will be extended and every area of the country should have centres available that are open seven days a week.
More pop-up sites will be coming online with local areas looking at the most convenient sites for their communities – from trucks and buses in parks and shopping centres to sports stadiums and leisure centres.
There are already almost 3,000 sites across the country – more than at any point of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
GP teams will be asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up maximal capacity to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care. This might mean that for some people, routine appointments are postponed as part of the national mission to roll out boosters.
“NHS staff were already working incredibly hard to deliver covid vaccines as swiftly as possible but the threat posed by Omicron is grave,” said Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive. “Scientists are very concerned about the spread of Omicron due to the speed with which it spreads and because two doses do not appear to provide much protection but thankfully, a booster dramatically improves this.”
She said that was why the government has asked the NHS to prioritise boosters over routine care and added, “The online booking system is already open to millions of people and will shortly open to all adults – please don’t hesitate with your booking and get boosted now.”
Dr Emily Lawson, director of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme said:
“The best way to get your vaccine is by booking online or by calling 119 – please do keep checking availability as we load more appointments onto the system every day.”
Following the launch of a recruitment drive last week, the NHS is continuing to encourage people to come forward and help the NHS to save lives either as a volunteer or in a paid role in the programme.
NHS staff will also be redeployed so that they can focus on protecting the entire country as quickly as possible and military aid will be in place in every region across the country to support NHS staff with planning for the extra vaccinations.
Saturday was a record day for booster vaccines with 483,000 top ups reported in just one day and since the booster rollout started in September, more than 19 million doses have already been delivered in England.
The NHS has advised that the best way to get your booster quickly is by booking online or by calling 119 but if walk in centres have capacity to do so, they can vaccinate adults aged 18 and over immediately.
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