The new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is spreading rapidly across the UK – and has prompted Boris Johnson to introduce ‘Plan B’ restrictions to stem the spread.
This means the public is urged to get their third vaccination to boost immunity as soon as possible.
While it was hoped that the booster alone would be enough to stave off the virus this winter, the emergence of the new strain, believed to be more transmissible than the Delta variant, has forced the government to introduce new protective measures.
Face masks are again mandatory on public transport, shops, cinemas, theaters and places of worship in England.
Meanwhile, staff are being advised to work from home where possible and an NHS Covid pass is now required to access crowded venues.
NHS rules on booster shots have also been relaxed, with everyone over 18 now being offered their third shot, a decision backed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which also recently recommended extending the period between the second and third Shorten vaccination from six months to three to beat the variant.
Still, the UK continued to see extremely high Covid infection rates over the festive period, with the total number of daily cases in England rising to a pandemic peak of 218,724 on January 4, according to the UK Health Authority.
Fortunately, hospital admissions and deaths remain relatively low, although no fewer than 24 NHS trusts have reported “critical incidents” of staff shortages, putting enormous pressure on remaining staff.
All of this means that a third “boost” vaccine becomes even more necessary as immunity begins to wane.
You can currently get a booster shot if you are over 18 – or over 16 and have a medical condition – and it has been at least three months (91 days) since you received your second dose of any of the approved Covid vaccines to have.
If you are eligible for a vaccination, you no longer have to wait for the NHS to contact you to make an appointment online.
If you are having trouble securing a booking due to high demand, you can also visit any walk-in vaccination center to get your vaccination, although people are advised to use the NHS online walk-in locator to find the center closest to you .
If you have had a positive Covid test you are advised to wait four weeks (28 days) before booking your booster, starting from the date you had the test.
“NHS staff are making it as easy as possible for people to get their booster shots,” said Dr. Nikki Kanani, Deputy Head of the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.
“People can now go online, find the closest location, and grab their booster without delay.
“Not only is the Booster nice to have, it’s really important protection against what we know is going to be a challenging winter.
“So if you’re eligible, please check the site finder and get your jab.”
This article was modified on December 10, 2021. He had previously stated that Covid boosters were available to everyone over 18, but at the time of publication boosters have only been made available to adults over 40 and people in a few additional high-risk categories. We also removed a quote from a GP because we understood it might oversimplify the science behind some vaccines, although it accurately reflected his comments.