Spring booster rollout as Covid numbers rise in UK

NHS staff received the boosters as early as September last year and they will be eligible for a fourth dose in six months. This is followed by care home residents and those over 75 years of age. The majority of those who qualify will be invited in April.

The additional doses may come at a critical time as scientists believe the recent increase in Covid cases and hospitalizations may be related to weakened immunity.

Some have called for the rollout of the fourth spike to begin earlier. But a spokesman said the NHS would follow the advice of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization.

He added: “The NHS will vaccinate eligible people with the spring dose six months after their first booster, starting later this month to a small number of eligible people before April.”

The Office for National Statistics said two million people – one in 25 – are thought to have been infected in the UK last week.

In Scotland, infections have increased for six straight weeks with 299,900 people likely to have contracted coronavirus last week, equivalent to one in 18 people.

This is the highest number for Scotland since estimates began in autumn 2020. Wales and Northern Ireland also made big jumps last week.

Estimates for Wales rose from 94,200 people to 97,900 – one in 30 – while Northern Ireland cases rose from 106,300 to 143,800 – one in 13.

The third dose is still being injected and NHS England is calling out the 4,400 most vulnerable 12 to 15 year olds.

Dr Nikki Kanani, Deputy Head of the NHS Covid Immunization Programme, said: “Every parent wants to do all they can to protect their little ones and send them to school.

“But when a family is extra worried about what Covid might mean for a seriously unwell child, it’s super important to boost their recharge as soon as they qualify. ”

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