Walk-in sites across the UK will now be offering booster jabs to those already double vaccinated, as the NHS attempts to increase take-up ahead of winter.
From today, anyone who has had their second dose at least sixth months ago will be able to turn up at one of the hundreds of vaccination sites with no appointment needed.
GP and deputy lead for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, Dr Nikki Kanani said: “NHS staff are making it as easy as possible for people to get their top-up vaccination, and from today people can now go online, find their nearest site and go and get their booster without delay.
“The booster is not just a nice to have, it is really important protection ahead of what we know will be a challenging winter”.
NHS England said more than six million people have received a booster jab or a third dose – the latter is being given to people with severely weakened immune systems.
The latest data from the Department of Health shows 7,925,851 people across the UK have had a booster jab or a third dose – around 13.8% of the vaccinated population aged 12 or above.
It comes as the government announced that Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, and Suffolk will become ‘Enhanced Response Areas’ for tackling the COVID pandemic.
The new status, which will last for five weeks, has been sparked by a rise in cases in older populations and growing pressure on local health and education services.
It means these councils are able to push for additional measures and resources to drive down case numbers.
The plans include targeting people in areas of low vaccination take-up, as well as accelerating the rollout for those aged 12-15 and people who are eligible for their booster jabs.
Councillor Richard Howitt, chair of the Cambridgeshire County Council’s Adults and Health Committee, said: “I think the problem is that the public think this pandemic is over, and some of the stringency around social distancing, mask-wearing and washing hands has gone out of practice.
“I want this to be a wake-up call that this pandemic is not over,” continued Mr Howitt.
He also warned if not addressed, “vital services” will be severely affected by the rising rates.
“The Enhanced status will further enable measures across the whole population that we know can work to slow down infection rates and were working earlier in the year,” he said.
It comes as the UK recorded a further 38,009 coronavirus cases and 74 related deaths in the latest 24-hour period, the latest government figures show.
The latest figures also show a total of 49,955,853 people have had one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – with another 33,763 doses being administered.
And 45,697,856 people have had two vaccine doses after another 24,908 jabs were given in the latest data.
The figures show 7,925,851 people have had a third booster jab after 361,428 doses were administered.