Government officials aren’t just disappointed by the speed of the Covid vaccine roll-out for healthy 12-15 year-olds. Experts have warned that the booster vaccine roll-out is also moving too slowly and will not be completed until the end of January if it continues at its current pace. The Telegraph has the story.
On Monday, Downing Street promised to “step up communications” as it emerged that only 3.7 million of the 8.5 million at-risk people who had a second jab at least six months ago have had their third dose. It means 4.8 million are in danger from waning immunity.
Currently, people eligible for a third dose must wait until they are contacted by the NHS before booking a jab.
John Roberts, of the respected Covid Actuaries Response Group, who calculated the figures based on the latest NHS England booster figures and historical vaccination data, said: “At the start of the booster campaign, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care stated that the aim was to protect the most vulnerable from Covid as we head into the autumn and winter months.
“But at the current rate, it’s likely to be towards the end of January before the approximately 22 million that fall into the most vulnerable groups receive the booster.
“With case numbers very high and still rising, and admissions to hospital also rising again, it’s clear that accelerating the booster roll-out is vital to reduce the pressure on health services and minimise Covid-related deaths this autumn and winter.”
Experts blamed the slowdown on the growing complexity of the Covid vaccination programme, which is now dealing with schoolchildren, extra doses for immunocompromised people and rolling out the flu jab.
At the peak of England’s vaccine roll-out, more than 500,000 doses were being given a day – but just 99,000 booster shots were reported in England on Monday, and the current daily average for other jabs has fallen to around 50,000.
The booster programme is working its way through nine priority groups, starting with the over-80s, care home residents, frontline health workers and the clinically vulnerable.
The Covid Actuaries Response Group warned that there are two million people becoming eligible each week but just 1.3 million weekly jabs being carried out, meaning the backlog is growing. The gap between a second jab and booster is concerning, because studies have shown that immunity continues to drop over time. …
Professor Andrew Hayward, an epidemiologist and government adviser of University College London, said the situation was “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure”.
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