The booster is the third Covid vaccine but is only available for over-40s and clinically vulnerable Britons. The jab has become invaluable in preventing severe disease and death. Scientists fear the Omicron variant is strong enough to pierce defences afforded by the base vaccination dose and, with a further 75 infections detected in the UK, officials have responded by extending the booster rollout.
When can you get the Covid booster jab?
Omicron has prompted British officials into rapid action, with borders now shuttered to countries exhibiting the highest case rates, and masks again compulsory in some settings.
The primary fear associated with the variant, first detected by South African scientists, is that it could escape the comprehensive protection afforded by previous vaccines.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has responded by extending the booster programme beyond its current scope.
READ MORE: Covid ‘booster programme on steroids’ may take 10 more days to start
Working with the NHS, the JCVI has arranged to drop age requirements and hand the booster to anyone younger than 40.
People also won’t need to wait as long for theirs, with the JCVI content to reduce the waiting period from six months to three following a second jab.
The change will take effect within the next two weeks, by December 13.
The Government has pledged that, by January, every adult in England will have received their booster offer.
But the dedicated booster booking service has not been updated with the announcement.
Eligible people who have not received a booster can book theirs via a Government portal, currently reserved for over-40s.
People who have not waited six months between doses cannot book appointments yet.
NHS correspondence has revealed the organisation will update its booking system “no later” than December 13.
The NHS would need to offer one million more jabs, raising the total from 2.5 million to 3.5 million a week.
The pandemic is far from over in the UK, and NHS services remain heavily overextended.
As cases continue to hold steady at around 50,000 per day, approximately hundreds more people require hospital treatment.
With a total of 7,373 currently requiring hospital beds, medics have had to suspend regular treatments, with GPs also struggling to catch up on a backlog of appointments.