Huge surge in young people getting first Covid jab as top doctor warns 'no time to lose'

26 December 2021, 14:11

More young unvaccinated people have come forward for their jabs.
More young unvaccinated people have come forward for their jabs. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

The number of young people who had their first coronavirus vaccine increased by 85% in the last week, as the NHS's most senior doctor warned there is "no time to lose".

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In total, 221,564 first doses were administered in England in the week of December 15-21, a 46% increase from the previous week, and 279,112 second doses were administered, a 39% jump, the Department for Health and Social Care said.

The largest increase was seen among young people, with an 85% increase in first doses for those aged between 18 and 24 and a 71% increase in first doses for those aged 25 to 30.

It is likely this rise is down to the requirement for people to provide their vaccination status or a negative lateral flow test before entering large events, such as football matches and nightclubs.

The arrival of the Omicron variant in the run-up to Christmas - and the increasing concern surrounding the new variant - is also likely to have triggered an uptick.

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The Government has been driving the national booster programme rollout in a bid to get more people jabbed, even sending out a mass Boxing Day text telling Brits to get boosted.

The campaign has already seen NHS workers race to get jabs into people's arms as fast as possible, with some volunteers offering doses on Christmas Day.

The text message read: "Get boosted now. Every adult needs a Covid-19 booster vaccine to protect against Omicron. Get your Covid-19 vaccine or booster. See NHS website for details."

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said "it has never been as important to get protected with the booster".

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis also wants people to urgently book a booster - warning infection rates are "worryingly high".

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Prof Powis warned "stragglers" who were eligible for a booster but had not yet had one that there was "no time to lose".

"The evidence is clear.

"One or two jabs can help but they do not provide the protection we all need against Omicron," said Prof Powis.

"So if you are eligible for a Covid vaccination but haven't had one there is no time to lose, you need to get boosted now."

Read more: Government to send out mass Boxing Day text telling Brits to get boosted now

Data from the UK Health Security Agency has revealed that two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, while providing strong protecting from the Delta variant, show substantially reduced effectiveness against symptomatic infection from the Omicron variant over time.

But a third dose provides between 60% and 70% protection against symptomatic infection from Omicron two to four weeks after the booster dose.

More than 30 million people have already had their third dose and all of those eligible will be offered a booster by the end of the year.