Health officials announced that millions of people in the UK would be offered a Covid booster shot next week, as the latest estimates show infections have risen to a year high.
Nursing home residents will be the first to receive a spring Covid-19 booster vaccine starting Monday, and millions more will be invited for appointments beginning Wednesday.
About 5 million people were eligible for booster shots at the end of June, including those aged 75 and over and those aged five and over with compromised immune systems. Anyone can order Jab online starting April 5th, with the first course available beginning April 17th.
Millions of people got their first invite via the NHS app, where they can book an appointment. Text messages and letters are sent to those who don’t have the app or don’t use it regularly.
The move comes after the UK’s official Covid-19 forecast last week showed infections in the UK to hit their highest level in 2023.
The result is the last regular review of the coronavirus to have been released since long-term studies – what some have called “the envy of the world” for their success in tracking the virus – was discontinued. Any further surveillance of Covid-19 will be announced after review to ensure it is cost-effective, the UK’s Health Safety Agency said.
According to the Office for National Statistics, an estimated 1.5 million people in UK homes were likely to have caught the coronavirus in the week of March 13, up from 1.3 million in the previous week. It was the highest total for England in the week ending January 3.
NHS Director of Vaccination and Screening Steve Russell said: “As a society, we are learning to live with Covid, but for many people, it is still a virus that can cause severe illness and hospitalization, so it is still essentially the most at-risk, will come forward and increase protection them in the coming weeks.
“According to the latest figures, there are still around 8,000 people in hospital with Covid and the NHS has treated over 1 million Covid patients since the pandemic started.
“So if you are over 75 or have a weakened immune system, please come as soon as possible to order a Covid vaccine this spring to enjoy your summer in peace.”