Brits can book the fourth Covid-19 shot from today – everything you need to know

Millions of Britons are now eligible for a fourth dose of the life-saving coronavirus vaccine.

The cabinet has announced that certain population groups can register for a second booster from this week. The move comes almost exactly two years after the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown and against a worsening picture of the domestic pandemic.

A new, more contagious strain is spreading and the number of cases has risen. On Saturday, Boris Johnson teased the latest vaccine move at the Conservative Party’s spring conference — hinting it will be expanded to more people later this year.

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He said: “I hope you’ve all had your boosters. We’re getting ready for a fourth shot because we’re going to need it.”

Here’s everything you need to know about the fourth jab:

When will the rollout start?

As of today, the NHS has started inviting eligible people to come forward for their life-saving Spring booster shots. Those who fit the bill have been able to book from 7am.

Who is now eligible?

The Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee has advised providing a spring jab as a precaution to those most vulnerable to Covid-19. People 75 years and older and people with immunosuppression over 12 years.

In total, five million people can get a shot during the spring booster campaign. The NHS will contact more than 600,000 people this week to invite them to reserve their vaccine.

You’ll be eligible if you’ve reached six months since your last booster, which is why not everyone is available right away. For most of them it will be the fourth dose, although for immunosuppressed it could be the fifth.

Who might be eligible in the future?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) is still discussing whether the fourth dose should be expanded more widely. Last week, Health Minister Sajid Javid gave the strongest hint yet that there will certainly be a wider rollout.

But it’s clear that no decisions were made about exactly who would get the jab as part of this. Ie whether a fourth shot should be offered to all adults – or, instead, broaden access, but still for certain groups such as the over-50s. Asked if the JCVI would say we needed more people, Mr Javid told ITV’s Peston: “I think they will at some point.

“And they’ve actually been clear and their most recent advice is that they think by the end of this year, maybe in the fall, there’s going to be a need to give a lot more people a boost, an offer of a boost. But I wait for that advice.”

Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Why is the government rolling this out now?

The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are on the rise, and experts fear that the number of deaths will soon rise as well. Since the beginning of the month, daily infections have more than doubled, from 30,000 cases per day on average per week to 70,000 now.

At present, cases of illness among the elderly are at an all-time high, with one in 29 people over 70 in England infected. While the vaccine has helped keep the impact of those infections lower than they were in 2020 and early 2021, hospitalizations are now rising again.

There are currently around 1,900 Covid admissions per day in the UK – a 50% increase from this time a month ago. The rise is fueled by increased social interactions and BA.2, a new mutation of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus that is responsible for most new infections in the UK.

Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy SRO for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “Unfortunately we are still seeing large numbers of people seriously unwell in hospital with Covid so it remains vital that those most at risk come forward when they are invited to do. So. The public response to date to the largest and most successful vaccination program in the history of the NHS has been incredible, with more than nine in 10 people aged 75 and over receiving their first booster.”

“The NHS Covid Vaccination Program is once again ready to protect people, so if you’re invited, please come forward for your spring dose.”

How can I get the second booster?

The NHS health chiefs expect a high rise of spring boosters among people 75 and older after 4.5 million of them received their top-up in the fall and winter, and have recruited additional call handlers for the 119 service to help people help them book their vaccine appointment. Calls to make an appointment can be made to 119, which are toll-free from mobile and landlines.

The lines are open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 119 can provide support in 200 languages. Local NHS teams will, as they have done before, contact care homes in their area to arrange spring boosters for those who qualify and have been invited.

Hundreds of sites, including community pharmacies, vaccination centers and hospital hubs, are offering spring boosters for those most vulnerable to coronavirus. Is it important that I get the booster if I qualify?

According to the government, it is still important that people with severe immunosuppression who have been advised to receive a 3rd primary dose, for example those undergoing cancer treatment, receive it before receiving a booster, for maximum protection against Covid- 19. While having three injections significantly reduces your chances of becoming seriously ill or dying from the coronavirus, the vaccine’s impact diminishes over time.

Having a booster shot helps to keep immunity levels as high as possible.

Health and Social Care Minister Sajid Javid said: “Spring boosters will help boost the immunity of the elderly and the most vulnerable to ensure they are protected and will help us continue to live with this virus. Thanks to the NHS for taking up the challenge once again to give people a boost. Please come forward as soon as you are contacted.”

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup added: “We are absolutely committed to protecting the most vulnerable to Covid. Please take up the offer of a ferry booster as soon as the NHS gets in touch – it will protect you and ensure we can continue to enjoy our freedoms.”

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