'Jabby new year': NHS to send hundreds of thousands more texts in fresh booster plea

29 December 2021, 00:01

The NHS will text booster vaccine reminders to more than 600,000 people this week.
The NHS will text booster vaccine reminders to more than 600,000 people this week. Picture: Getty

By Press Association

The NHS is texting hundreds of thousands more people this week, urging them to get a booster shot and protection against the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

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The NHS vaccination programme is sending around 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters to people who have not yet received their top-up dose, encouraging them to roll up their sleeve and have a "jabby new year".

There are more than a million appointments still available to book before the end of the year, according to the health service.

NHS staff administered 244,078 vaccinations on Monday, including 209,626 boosters.

Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, said it was "the second-highest number for a bank holiday so far".

She said: "We are contacting hundreds of thousands of people this week urging them to ensure they have maximum protection in the face of the threat from Omicron.

"Experts are clear that two doses does not give the protection we need from the new strain so everyone eligible should get boosted now and enjoy a jabby new year.

"Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends as we head in to 2022, whether it be a first, second or booster dose."

Read more: New Covid case record set as govt says people should still enjoy NYE – 'but cautiously'

NHS national medical director Prof Stephen Powis warned that people who do not get vaccinated against Covid risk serious illness or death.

Three in five patients in intensive care in London at the start of last month had not been vaccinated, according to research from the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre.

Prof Powis said: "While that does not necessarily tell us exactly what is going on in hospitals now, it tallies with what we are hearing from staff on the frontline.

"Getting vaccinated... means that you are much less likely to end up in a hospital bed that could otherwise be used to treat someone else."

NHS staff reported that there were more than 214,000 "jingle jab" vaccinations over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day – including 184,445 top-up doses.

NHS figures also show that more than seven in 10 eligible people aged 18 and over have now had their top-up jab.