Covid booster bookings opened today – a month earlier than expected

The government and the NHS have changed the booster booking system to make it even easier for people to get their jab.

Monday, 8th November 2021, 8:04 am

From today (Monday, November 8) the National Booking System will allow someone to pre-book their booster appointment a month before they are eligible.

Everyone aged over 50 and all those most at risk from COVID-19 should get a booster six months after their second dose.

Currently, someone can only book an appointment at six months.

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Changes to bookings from today

From today, they will be able to book their appointment after five months.

This means that someone could pre-book their jab for the day they reach the six month milestone, rather than waiting days or weeks for a convenient appointment.

More than nine million people have already received their top-up vaccine, ensuring the vital protection they have secured from their first two doses is maintained over the winter months.

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This change to the booking system will further speed up the booster rollout, getting more jabs in arms and protecting our loved ones.

People can also book by calling 119 or get vaccinated at hundreds of walk-in sites across the country six months after their second dose without an appointment.

Those eligible can use the NHS online walk-in finder to locate the most convenient site.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter and this change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs.

“This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly help more people maintain protection against COVID-19 as we know immunity will dip over time.

“Please do not delay – come and get the jab to keep the virus at bay.”

The colder weather traditionally leads to increased transmission of viruses and will be challenging for the NHS.

Vaccines give high levels of protection but immunity reduces over time, particularly for older adults and at-risk groups, so it is vital that vulnerable people come forward to get their COVID-19 booster vaccine to top-up their defences and protect themselves this winter.

The latest evidence from SAGE shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65 per cent, up to three months after the second dose, to 45 per cent six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90 per cent to 65 per cent for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 per cent for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer/BioNTech.

Although the vaccine effectiveness against severe disease remains high, a small change can generate a major shift in hospital admissions.

For example, a change from 95 per cent to 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation would lead to doubling of admissions in those vaccinated, research by scientists has shown.

The booster programme is designed to top up this waning immunity.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Liam Hoden, editor.