- About 3.7 million thirds of vaccines have been prepared for people over 50 and the medically vulnerable in England
- But some 8.5 million are now eligible for a booster jab who took their second dose at least six months ago.
- This means 4.8 million people could suffer from weakened immunity as the UK moves into colder months
Nearly 5 million vulnerable adults are yet to receive a Covid booster vaccine, after Downing Street acknowledged the UK is facing a ‘challenging’ winter, official figures showed.
Despite the NHS top-up program being launched a month ago, only 3.7 million of the 8.5m eligible people in England have received a critical third dose.
No10 scientists approved a plan to re-vaccinate all healthy healthcare workers and caregivers over the age of 50 and patients with underlying medical conditions six months after their second dose, after evidence it was ‘sweet’ for immunity. Spot’.
The lagging rollout has left nearly 4.8m people with sub-optimal immunity as the country moves into the colder months and faces the double threat of rising cases and the flu.
SAGE’s advisor ‘Professor Lockdown’, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, stressed today that it is ‘important we accelerate’ the booster drive to give ourselves the best chance of avoiding bringing ourselves back.
And Sir David King, who was the government’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, criticized the rollout for going ‘extremely slow’.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard insisted the health service has ‘great potential’ to immediately vaccinate all eligible people, but said people were not coming forward quickly. He told lawmakers on the health committee: ‘It is really important that we now fully convey the message that Covid is still with us.’
But some experts also say the booster program is slowing as the UK tries to introduce jabs to children in secondary schools for the first time and run the largest flu vaccination program in history.
Pictures today show clinics lying nearly empty, with some not open for booster jab walk-ins – further highlighting the complexity of Britain’s current rollout.
This comes against the backdrop of rising cases with 49,156 infections recorded yesterday – the highest daily figure in three months. Downing Street warned Britons should be prepared for a ‘challenging few months’.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said there were ‘currently no plans’ to restart Plan B restrictions – which include face masks and work from home guidance – but that ministers were ‘keeping a very close eye on the latest figures’. Were were
Meanwhile, experts also warned today that a subtype of the Covid delta strain may be more contagious than its ancestor. Official figures show it was behind nearly one in 10 cases earlier this month – the proportion doubling within a month.
About 3.7 million thirds of vaccines have been prepared for more than 50 and immunity-compromised in England as of Sunday (purple line), the latest date available for the data. But some 8.5 million people currently eligible for a booster dose received their second jab six months ago (green line). i.e. 4.8 million people may suffer from weakened immunity
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard insisted today that the healthcare system has ‘great potential’ to immediately vaccinate all eligible people, but said people are not coming forward quickly. Image: Alland Road vaccination center in Leeds is empty today
SAGE advisor ‘Professor Lockdown’ Neil Ferguson (left), an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, said it was ‘important we accelerate’ the booster drive. And Sir David King (right), who was the government’s chief scientific adviser from 2000 to 2007, said the rollout was progressing at an ‘extremely slow’ pace.