'Don't wait' - People urged to get coronavirus booster
- Credit: PA
People across Suffolk and north Essex no longer have to wait for NHS invitations to have their Covid-19 booster jabs.
Anyone in an eligible group - who had their second dose of Covid vaccine at least six months ago - can now go to a walk-in, no appointment clinic for a booster vaccination.
The move, aiming to encourage speedier take-up across the area, comes as figures reveal nearly 35,000 booster vaccines have been administered across Suffolk and north Essex up to October 14.
People are eligible for a booster six months after receiving their second dose, and include those aged 50 and over, frontline volunteers and health and social care staff, people with severely weakened immune systems and their resident household contacts and those aged under 50 with an underlying health condition.
Elizabeth Moloney, who is leading the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “The booster rollout began last month and it’s pleasing that so many people have taken up the offer.
“Yet we are mindful that we need to administer as many booster vaccinations as possible to those who are eligible, so that their health can be best protected over the winter months.
“We know too that vaccinated people are far less likely to suffer complications of Covid-19, helping reduce the number of hospitalisations and pressure on our busy health services this winter, which is another reason for getting the booster into as many people as quickly as possible.
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“If you meet the eligibility criteria, please don’t wait to get your booster.”
Meanwhile, children in England aged between 12 and 15 will now be able to secure their Covid-19 jabs at existing vaccination centres following concerns about rollout delays.
Health secretary Sajid Javid told MPs on Tuesday that the national booking service will be opened up to younger teenagers to book their Covid-19 vaccinations outside of school to "make the most of half-term".
It comes after headteachers' unions called for vaccines to be offered to pupils in walk-in centres, as well as school, after figures revealed the scale of the low take-up of the Covid-19 jab among the cohort.
The latest attendance data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows the number of children out of school for Covid-19 related reasons in England has risen over the past fortnight.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and former headteacher of King Edward VI School in Bury St Edmunds, said: "The key to bringing levels of Covid-19 infection back under control in our schools and colleges is clearly the vaccination programme for 12 to 15-year-olds but it has not been happening fast enough.
"It was painfully slow to get underway in some areas and has been beset by logistical problems, not to mention being disrupted by the irresponsible actions of anti-vaccination protesters.
"The announcement from NHS England that young people can attend vaccination drop-in centres during the half-term holiday is a big help and we hope they will do so in sufficient numbers to help slow the spread of the virus in schools and colleges."
For more Suffolk and north Essex vaccination information, click here.