THERE is a simple fact: Covid-19 vaccines are protecting us.
Another basic fact is this: We will need to continue vaccinating to keep that protection.
Research from other countries shows that a third, booster dose of a vaccine further improves your immunity and reduces your risk of a serious illness that may lead to hospitalisation or death.
At the same time, some people with medical conditions that weaken their immune system, or who are under-going treatment that has the same effect, will need FOUR doses of vaccine to give them maximum protection.
The rollout of the NHS booster programme has been slower than we would have liked. We want as many people as possible to receive boosters before the onset of winter, when pressure on the NHS increases.
We will all be offered a booster eventually. But right now the people being targeted are those at highest risk of serious illness and death from a Covid-19 infection.
This includes people aged 50 and over and people under 50 with medical conditions that put them at higher risk, NHS staff and people who live and work in care homes.
People who are the main carer of someone at high risk are also being invited for boosters.
They should take them as soon as they are offered.
NHS England says six million people are currently eligible for a booster and 4.2million have already been invited for a third jab.
A high take-up of boosters will not just keep you considerably safer but will also reduce the chances of new virus mutations developing.
This year we have seen the rapid spread of the Delta variant here and across the world.
Now a new version of the Delta variant has been detected here. This is causing concern because it may be more infectious than the original Delta variant.
The good news is our vaccines continue to work well against new virus variants when people are fully vaccinated.
Because most Covid-19 restrictions in England ended in July, you might think the pandemic is largely over — so you do not think you need another vaccination.
The good news is our vaccines continue to work well against new virus variants when people are fully vaccinated
At the peak of England’s Covid vaccination rollout, more than 500,000 jabs were being given each day. But there were just 99,000 booster shots reported on Monday in England
Some of you might lack confidence in vaccines or be concerned about side-effects.
Others may be struggling to get an appointment at a vaccine clinic that is convenient to attend.
The NHS must look at this with some urgency.
Because if people don’t get their boosters, they increase their risk of catching Covid-19 and having a more serious illness.
This will lead to more cases of Covid-19 and increased pressures on the NHS this winter.
The number of deaths from Covid-19 will also increase. This may require the Government to bring back some Covid-19 restrictions — and if the situation gets very bad, it may require a further lockdown.
In the past four weeks, more than 1,400 Covid-related deaths have occurred among over-80s. Of the 2.2million people over 80 who are eligible for a booster, fewer than 1.2million have had the jab.
Please go out and get your booster vaccine as soon as you can
We all want a more normal way of life and don’t wish to see a repeat of last year, when Christmas gatherings were not possible because of the rules in place at the time.
Covid-19 vaccines are safe and very effective. By getting a booster, you are protecting yourself and those you live and work with.
You are also reducing the need for the Government to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions this winter.
So please go out and get your booster vaccine as soon as you can.