People aged 40 and over, along with those in high risk groups, will be able to book in for their life-saving Covid booster jab three months after their second dose as the NHS vaccine programme is extended today.
The online booking system for vaccines will be updated this morning and details will be updated on the system throughout the day.
People in those groups no longer have to wait six months after their second dose to top up their protection.
From today, people in their forties can book their top up jab a month advance – two months on from their second dose.
Almost seven million people will be able to book appointments from today as part of the booster push which comes amid a renewed threat from the Omicron variant.
The rollout comes exactly a year since the NHS made history by delivering the world’s first Pfizer jab and the first national Covid vaccination programme.
Since then the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in the health service’s history, has delivered almost 100 million jabs.
The NHS has also today launched a campaign to recruit tens of thousands more vaccinators and volunteers to support the expansion of the programme, urging the public to sign up if they can help.
There have been 42,900,000 first doses, 36,100,000 second and 17,500,000 top-ups.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “The biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health service history is entering its most complex phase and is continuing at speed in the run-up to Christmas.
“On the anniversary of the first vaccine in the world, the latest update from the NHS means an additional seven million people aged 40 and over will be able to book in for their life-saving booster and will be invited two months on from their second dose, a month in advance of becoming eligible.
“NHS staff continue to work flat out to protect their communities and are now once again working to expand the programme at scale.
“There is a lot we do not know about the Omicron variant but experts believe that even if existing vaccines are less effective they will give protection.
“So I would urge anyone eligible to come forward as soon as possible, and to keep checking for appointments in their area.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are boosting our booster programme to get more jabs in arms more quickly and from today, millions of people over the age of 40 in England will be able to pre-book their booster jab two months after their second dose, a month ahead of them becoming eligible for their top up vaccine.
“We are halving the gap that people have to wait to get their booster to three months – prioritising those most at risk of serious illness and strengthening our collective defences in light of the Omicron variant, as this virus goes on the advance this winter.”
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “From today, millions of people over the age of 40 in England will be able to come forward and book a booster jab three months after their second dose.
“Our COVID-19 vaccination programme has been a huge success and we have one of the highest uptake rates in the world – more than 85% of adults double jabbed so far and more than 20 million people have received a third dose or booster giving them vital protection ahead of winter and in light of the Omicron variant.
“We are working around the clock to boost the booster programme by opening up the booking platform, bringing onboard military personnel, opening extra pharmacy sites, hospital hubs and pop-up sites with thousands of invites sent out for volunteers to support the drive.”
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said: “With increasing numbers of confirmed Omicron cases across the country, vaccination is critical to bolster our defences against this new variant. Please get your first, second or booster jab without delay.”
All eligible adults can now book their life-saving booster jab two months (61 days) after their second dose using the NHS national booking system, getting their top-up in protection three months (91 days) on from their second dose following updated JCVI guidance.
Hundreds of hospitals are already jabbing their staff and have now been asked to vaccinate other local NHS workers, eligible patients, and social care staff as well as the programme expands.
Around 30 hospitals are already offering jabs to the public through the national booking service with more set to open.
There are almost 3,000 vaccination sites across the country – 1,300 more than in February, with an additional 300 pharmacies coming online in recent weeks as the programme enters the most complex stage of the rollout.
In line with JCVI guidance, the NHS is inviting people most at risk from the virus first and is working through age groups in stages before opening up to other age groups.
The NHS is asking people to keep checking for appointments once the system updates, as more become available every day.
The announcement comes on the anniversary of the first vaccine when the NHS made history by delivering the first vaccine to Maggie Keenan in Coventry on 8 December, 2020.
The NHS intends to offer every eligible adult an opportunity to book in for their booster jab by the end of January.
UKHSA and NHSE have worked in partnership to ensure that the necessary clinical guidance is in place to ensure a large number of people can deliver the next phase of the booster programme in vaccination centres up and down the country.
People can get their vaccine by booking online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119, and GP practices are also inviting those who are eligible.