Get booster jab now, Londoners urged as gap between doses is cut in half

·3-min read
A woman receives her Covid-19 booster jab (PA Wire)
A woman receives her Covid-19 booster jab (PA Wire)

Londoners were on Wednesday urged to come forward for their booster jab as soon as possible as the gap between second and third doses was halved to three months.

A year on from the first vaccines being given in the UK, almost 14m doses, including two million boosters, have been given in the capital.

People aged 40 and older can now book an appointment a month in advance – two months on from their second dose – as efforts are “ramped up” to respond to the threat from the Omicron variant.

Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director for the NHS in London, told the Standard: “The more people that come forward and get vaccinated in this new schedule, the more protected we will be – not just individually as people but also our families, our communities and as a capital city in its own right.

“We are really urging people to come forward as soon as their time slot is called.”

Margaret Keenan, 91, who a year ago became the first person in the world to get a Covid jab when she received a Pfizer dose at a hospital in Coventry, urged people to get a vaccination.

"The best Christmas present I could have is being in good health and having had the jab and feeling free from this horrible virus,” she said.

Vaccinations are being offered at 400 sites across London, with news of more clinics due later this week.

Eligibility for boosters will gradually be widened, probably in descending five-year age bands, with the aim of offering all adults a booster by the end of January.

Volunteers are being sought to help accelerate the roll-out, including thousands who were trained as vaccinators.

Dr Diwakar said: “We are ramping up the number of slots as we speak. We are also doing everything we can to make sure it is convenient for Londoners, which is one thing we learned early on in the vaccination programme.

“We will have more slots available by the end of January than there are people eligible to be vaccinated under the new JCVI rules.

“We are calling on the people who volunteered in the earlier phases of the vaccination programme to come forward to vaccinate.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospitals said it had given more than 775,000 jabs to more than 450,000 people in the last year. It now has six sites, including walk-in clinics.

Lyn Wheeler, 82, from Bromley, who received the first vaccine at Guy’s, watched by Boris Johnson, said: “Before the vaccine, there was no hope, and we feared the normal activities such as getting public transport and picking up food from the supermarket.

“Now I am even able to volunteer at a vaccination centre returning the favour to all those who kept me safe from the virus.

“We have got a tool to fight back against Covid and we have got to take it. People must continue to be vaccinated. It’s lovely to think we have got something – a year ago there wasn’t anything.”

Andrew Brown, chief executive of the black and minority ethnic forum in Croydon, whose brother Martin, a TfL bus manager, spent 159 days in hospital with Covid, said: “It’s down to each individual, but I have been double jabbed, mainly because of seeing what my brother went through.”

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