BRITS have just two weeks left to book a winter Covid booster jab.
Seasonal vaccinations will no longer be available after January 31.
Covid booster bookings close on January 31, 2024[/caption]
But slots are still available at local NHS vaccination clinics, pharmacies and walk-in sites.
These will stop on January 31, however flu jabs will continue to be offered until the end of March.
Anyone over the age of 65, as well as those with health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the virus, is eligible.
Karen Hewinson, head of clinical services at Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “For anyone who’s eligible and yet to have a Covid-19 vaccination as part of the current campaign, this really is your last chance for the time being to get vaccinated.”
The best way to protect yourself and others against Covid is to get vaccinated, according to the NHS.
It reduces your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from the virus, catching and spreading it, and protects you against different strains.
Seasonal jabs are offered because viruses change over time, and protection fades.
There have been several variants since the pandemic first hit in 2020.
Experts have described JN.1 as “devious” because it appears to evade antibodies.
Prof Peter Openshaw, from Imperial College London, told the BBC last month: “I’m hearing of people having nasty bouts of Covid, who are otherwise young and fit.
“It’s a surprisingly devious virus, sometimes making people quite ill and occasionally leading to having ‘long Covid’.
“The virus circulating now is quite different from the one we saw in 2020.
“The new virus has become so much better at transmitting from person to person, and it’s likely only going to get better.
“It’s also much better at evading the current immunity from infection and vaccination.”
As of November January 7, a total of 11,782,440 coronavirus jabs had been administered by the NHS in England since the start of the autumn campaign.
Dr Mary Ramsay, of the UKHSA, said: “Getting vaccinated as soon as possible will help reduce your risk of getting seriously ill with flu or Covid-19.”
Who is eligible for a Covid booster and how to book an appointment
YOU or your child may be offered a seasonal Covid-19 vaccine if you are:
- Aged 65 or over (you need to be 65 by March 31, 2024)
- Aged six months to 64 years and deemed to be at increased risk
- Living in a care home for older adults
- A frontline health or social care worker
- Aged 16 to 64 and are a carer
- Aged 12 to 64 and live with someone with a weakened immune system
You might be at increased risk from Covid if you suffer a health condition, such as:
- Long-term lung conditions like asthma or cystic fibrosis
- Long-term heart conditions
- Long-term kidney, liver or digestive system conditions
- Breathing difficulties from conditions like epilepsy, autism or multiple sclerosis
You can no longer book boosters online or by phone, but you can make an appointment with a local NHS vaccination service or visit a walk-in site.
The “last chance” call for Brits to get jabbed comes after a world-first study revealed more than 7,000 hospital admissions and deaths could have been avoided in summer 2022 if everyone had been up-to-date on their doses.
Researchers found that between a third and a half of people had not had the recommended number of Covid vaccinations and boosters by June 1, 2022, equating to almost 27million people in England alone.
The study, led by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and the University of Edinburgh, used anonymised health data for the population of 67million people in all four nations of the UK.
People aged five and over were looked at, with under-vaccination defined as not having had all doses for which they were eligible.
As of June 1, 2022, some 45.7 per cent of people in England were under-vaccinated, as were 49.8 per cent of people in Northern Ireland, 34.2 per cent in Scotland and 32.8 per cent in Wales, scientists found.
Researchers then used mathematical modelling to find that 7,180 hospitalisations and deaths out of 40,393 Covid hospital admissions and deaths from June 1 to September 30, 2022, might have been avoided if the UK population was fully vaccinated.
Of the 40,393 hospital admissions and deaths, some 14,156 were in people who were under-vaccinated.
While all age groups were affected, the majority were older people.
The highest rates of under-vaccination were found in younger people, men, those in areas of higher deprivation, and people of non-white ethnicity.
The researchers found that uptake of vaccines was high for the first dose but got worse as more doses were offered.
The results of the study showed that, in comparison to people who were fully-vaccinated, people aged five to 15 who had not had all their jabs were over two times more at risk of death and hospital admission from Covid-19.
Those aged 16 to 74 were 50 per cent more at risk, while adults aged 75 and over were over three times more at risk.
Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh, HDR UK research director and co-lead of the study, published in the The Lancet, said: “Large-scale data studies have been critical to pandemic management, allowing scientists to make policy-relevant findings at speed.
“Covid-19 vaccines save lives. As new variants emerge, this study will help to pinpoint groups of our society and areas of the country where public health campaigns should be focused and tailored for those communities.”
Researchers said the study – which is the largest of its type ever carried out in the UK – represents a landmark advance for science because it includes virtually everyone in the UK and unites NHS data which is stored and gathered differently depending on the country.
Experts now aim to extend this type of study to many other areas of medicine, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory diseases, screening programmes and other vaccinations, such as for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Sir Aziz told a briefing: “There’s nowhere else in the world that can do this. This is a genuine landmark for the UK.
“We’ve got absolutely outstanding data assets and brilliant analysts.”
Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency, said protection from Covid jabs wears off over time so it is important to stay up to date with boosters if in an eligible group.
“The last day to get your Covid-19 vaccination for this winter season is January 31,” he added.
“We’re encouraging those eligible to speak to their pharmacy or local GP as soon as possible to get booked in, which will ensure you have the best protection against the virus in the coming months.”
After this date, most people will need to wait until a future seasonal campaign.