As people peel back the windows on their advent calendars, catching COVID-19 is one festive surprise we could all do without.
With the usual seasonal peak in respiratory diseases – and pressures on the NHS – the new Omicron variant has highlighted the importance of getting fully-jabbed against COVID-19, including getting a booster jab when it’s your turn.
To protect us all better, the government has announced changes to the way the booster vaccine is given including extending the jab to all adults, in turn, starting with those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Here is a summary of what has changed:
• Boosters are now available just three months after your second dose if you are 40+ or clinically vulnerable
• Boosters will soon be available for 18 to 39-year-olds instead of just people aged 40 plus.
• Children aged 12 to 15 are now being offered a second dose 12 weeks after their first.
To help us manage demand, and make sure that vaccination centres don’t get overwhelmed, it is important to wait until the NHS contacts you for your booster.
Currently boosters are only being offered to people aged over 40, who had their second dose at least three months ago. However, the position changes frequently so keep an eye on Merton Council, the NHS and South West London CCG websites and social media accounts for changes.
“Getting your booster is the best way to increase your protection against COVID-19,” says Nurse Consultant Fiona White. “It increases your protection against symptomatic infection to over 90 per cent.
“We know that over time the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination can begin to wane and may not fully protect you against new strains of the virus. Getting vaccinated means that even if you do get the virus, you are more likely to produce a more robust, immune response.”
If you haven’t had your first or second doses of the vaccine, remember that our doors are always open, so book your appointment or come along to our walk-in centres as soon as possible. Says Fiona, “Protecting yourself against COVID-19 really is the best Christmas present that you give yourself and your loved ones this year. “
Over the next few week, the NHS in South-West London will be supporting the booster drive by setting up new venues and pop in centres. Look out for details of those new centres.
Don’t forget that if you’re looking to keep you and loved ones as safe as possible over the next few weeks, you also check out about getting your flu vaccine. Find out more about boosting your winter immunity here.