Sixteen and 17-year-olds eligible for booster doses from Monday
Sixteen and 17-year-olds will able to get a Covid booster jab from Monday.
About 40,000 teenagers will be eligible for their top-up dose when the national booking service opens at the start of the week in the latest phase of the vaccine programme.
Previously, boosters were only recommended for clinically vulnerable 16 and 17-year-olds who are most at risk from Covid-19.
But recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed that two doses of the vaccine are not enough to stop people becoming unwell from Omicron, but a booster significantly increases protection against the variant.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: “The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is expanding once again to offer eligible young people aged 16 and 17 the chance to book their boosters through the online booking service from tomorrow, with walk-in sites also available across the country, as the biggest and fastest vaccine drive in health service history continues at pace.
“Covid has caused so much disruption for so many families over the past two years, affecting young people’s lives and education, and getting vaccinated protects them, their family and their friends, letting them stay at school and continue socialising.
“We know that the best protection against coronavirus is to get vaccinated and I’d urge everyone, whatever your age, to come forward and get that vital top-up as soon as it is possible.”
More than 600,000 in the age group in England have had their second jab, and will be able to get boosted in the coming weeks as they reach three months after the second dose.
Since the vaccination programme rolled out to this age group in August, more than 889,700 teenagers in England – seven in 10 people aged 16 and 17 – have had their first dose.
The NHS said invitations will be sent out this week encouraging people in the age group to book their appointment through the online booking service, or by finding their nearest walk-in site.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “More than four in five adults in England have already been boosted, helping to protect them from severe illness and reduce the pressure on the NHS in the face of Omicron.
“We’re now extending the programme to 16 and 17-year-olds so they can top-up their immunity this winter to keep themselves and their friends safe.
“We can learn to live with Covid-19 if everybody comes forward for their vaccines and gets boosted now.”
However the NHS said that, in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, it cannot vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds within 12 weeks, or 84 days, of a positive Covid-19 test.
Those aged 16 and 17 and considered at high risk from Covid-19 must wait four weeks, or 28 days, from the date of a positive Covid-19 test before getting any dose of the vaccine.