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COVID-19 booster rollout ramped up

by Guy Murphy

Last night (12 December), the UK Prime Minister announced that the roll out of COVID-19 booster jabs to everyone aged 18+ will be moved forward from the end of January to the end of December.

This means, over the next couple of weeks all Knowsley eligible Knowsley residents will receive an invitation to book their COVID-19 booster jab appointment.

The decision to speed up the rollout of COVID-19 booster jabs has been made to help to combat the rising cases of the Omicron variant. On Sunday the UK Covid alert level was raised from 3 to 4, which indicates that there is increasing and substantial pressure on the NHS. The number of confirmed cases of Omicron also nearly doubled on the day before with a further 1,239 cases across the UK.

Early data has indicated that vaccine efficacy against infection is substantially reduced against the Omicron variant with just two doses. However, a third dose increases protection back to over 70%.

The NHS is prioritising bookings for boosters and is urging people to book a slot to guarantee their vital jab. Some vaccination sites may offer a walk-in service for 18s and over  from tomorrow 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.

Over the next week, 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.

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.

Cllr Christine Bannon, Cabinet Member for Health, said: “The Omicron variant is spreading very quickly and it is clear that we all need to take steps to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our local NHS services.

“Booster vaccinations provide us with an effective way to fight the virus and avoid us reaching the levels of infection that we saw at the start of the year.

“I urge all eligible residents to get their COVID-19 booster jab as soon as they can.”

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster?

Booster doses are available for all Knowsley residents aged 18+ who have had a 2nd dose of the vaccine at least 3 months ago.

How do I get my COVID-19 booster?

The NHS will let you know when it is your turn to book your appointment. The NHS will work through age cohorts based on risk. This means that currently only those aged 30+ can book their booster appointment.

If you’re aged 30+ you can book your appointment via gov.uk/coronavirus, calling 119 or speaking to your GP. The national booking system will open to 18+ next week.

All eligible Knowsley residents can get their booster jab at one of the pop-in clinics that are taking place across the city region. You can find out which clinics are offering jabs to all residents aged 18+ here.