COVID-19 booster vaccinations are to be extended to people aged 18-39, and Lincolnshire’s NHS sector is gearing up to roll out to the next cohort.
NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group has announced it will be preparing to offer booster jabs to people between the ages of 18 and 39, but has asked for patience due to the large volume of requests it will get.
As well as the extended cohort for the booster vaccinations, the government has also announced a reduction from six months to three for the interval between second doses and boosters, eligibility for a second dose for 12 to 15-year-olds, and a fourth dose for immunosuppressed people if recommended by their clinical team.
Martin Fahy, director of nursing and quality at NHS Lincolnshire CCG, said: “That’s quite a lot to take in and represents a huge undertaking, both for the NHS nationally and for us here in Lincolnshire.
“However, we’re up for the challenge and confident that, working with our partners, we will be able to respond positively.
“Of course, there’s a massive amount of work operationally in order to make this happen, but we’re on the case and working at extreme pace through the detail, the same way our colleagues across the country will be, to put in place the next – and arguably most complex – phase of the COVID-19 vaccination programme to-date.”
It comes as Professor Derek Ward, Lincolnshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, confirmed earlier this week that hospital admissions for COVID patients are five times higher for the unvaccinated than they are for those who are jabbed.
The rollout will, much like previous rounds of the programme, work in priority order, offering jabs to the most vulnerable in our society first.
Mr Fahy also added that the recent threat posed by the new Omicron variant makes the latest vaccine rollout extension “particularly important”.
He said: “There tends to be a lag between each announcement of a new phase of vaccinating and the opening up of vaccination slots, and we’re currently in that place now, waiting for the legal framework that will enable us to make a start on vaccinating the next cohort of people, however, planning and preparation have begun in earnest.
“Having said that, the Lincolnshire public’s support for us and the programme has been magnificent so far and we’ve no reason to think this will change going forwards. We have now given more than 246,000 boosters to people aged 40 and over.
“Our message to everyone is really clear and the same as before – we will contact you when it is your turn to be vaccinated, when this happens please come forwards as quickly as possible and book your vaccination.”
Here in Lincolnshire, people are being asked to either wait to be contacted, or to book their booster vaccines online using the national booking system.
There is a note on the system confirming that the NHS can currently only offer booster jabs for those over 40 who had their second dose at least six months ago, but this should update in the coming days to allow for over-18s to book within three months of their second jab.