Over-50s are being urged to get their Covid booster vaccines ahead of Christmas, with cases on the rise once again.
Health chiefs have dished out 14.4million Autumn boosters in England so far but 38 per cent of eligible adults are still yet to get their fifth dose, official data shows.
NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard said ‘the best thing’ they can do to get protected against the virus and aid the struggling health service is get another jab.
The plea comes two years to the day after Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to get an approved coronavirus vaccine.
Over-50s are being urged to get their Covid booster vaccines ahead of Christmas with cases on the rise again. Health chiefs have dished out 14.4million Autumn boosters as of November 30, but 38 per cent of eligible adults are still yet to get their fifth dose, official data shows
Booster vaccinations have consistently slowed since early October, when they peaked at around 508,000 per day in England. On November 28, the latest date data is available for, just 39,207 were administered
Uptake has been highest in people aged 80 to 84, 81 per cent of whom were fully-jabbed as of November 30. In contrast, fewer than 39 per cent of of people aged 50 to 54 have taken up the offer of a jab to date
Pictured: Margaret Keenan, 91, becomes the first patient in the world to receive a vaccine on December 8, 2020, at University Hospital Coventry
Could Covid hold key to curing cancer?
The virus has claimed the lives of six million people and caused unprecedented global disruption — but Covid might actually hold clues to curing cancer.
In lab studies, a modified version of Covid’s spike protein killed the most treatment-resistant and deadliest form of lung cancer.
The spike protein is the unique part of Covid that is used to infect people as it is the structure that binds to human cells in the first instance.
It could also infect and kill lung cancer cells, as when combined with other cells, the protein can set in motion the process of cells dying.
Kalipada Pahan, professor of neurology at RUSH Medical College in Chicago and lead investigator of the study, said: ‘If these results are replicated in lung cancer patients, it would uncover a promising avenue of this devastating disease.
‘Intranasal spike S1 protein could be used for late-stage lung cancer when there’s no other therapy to stop the progression.’
Ms Pritchard said: ‘The unparalleled success of the life-saving NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme… has been the single most important reason we have been able to get back to a pre-pandemic way of life.
‘The health service is currently facing huge pressure from all angles and, while Covid may feel like a thing of the past, we continue to deal with thousands of Covid hospitalisations as well as the resurgence of flu and other respiratory viruses.
‘Just as it was two years ago, the best thing you can do to avoid serious illness and hospitalisation is to make sure you are up to date with your Covid and flu jabs.’
The NHS is opening up hundreds of vaccination sites around the country, including pop-ups at food banks, community health centres and places of worship.
Roving buses and jab cabs will also be set up to help make boosters as accessible as possible, officials said.
Vaccines will be dished out at Oxford United’s football stadium, a German market in Birmingham and a bus in London, moving from supermarkets to mosques.
NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: ‘We would not be where we are today without the extraordinary efforts of staff involved in the NHS vaccination programme who planned, prepared and deployed the fastest and largest vaccine drive in health service history.
‘Two years on our staff are still working flat out across the country to deliver hundreds of thousands of Covid and flu jabs every day to ensure we continue to protect those most at risk from serious illness, reduce hospitalisations and save lives.
‘If you are yet to have your Covid booster or flu jab, please book in as soon as possible and take up the opportunities on offer around the country this weekend to ensure you have maximum protection over Christmas.’
Booster vaccine uptake has slowed since early October, when they peaked at around 500,000 per day in England.
Uptake has been highest in 80-somethings.
In contrast, fewer than 39 per cent of of people aged 50-54 have taken up the offer of a jab to date.
The push comes amid fears the NHS will be overwhelmed by the triple-threat of Covid, flu and RSV this winter, which will be exacerbated by staffing strikes.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests Covid infections shot up 7.9 per cent in the week to November 21 after four weeks of falling. Its surveillance data, based on the random swabbing of thousands of people, shows 873,200 people were carrying the virus, up from 809,200 one week earlier
Latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests Covid infections shot up 7.9 per cent in the week to November 21 after four weeks of falling.
Its surveillance data, based on the random swabbing of thousands of people, shows 873,200 people were carrying the virus, up from 809,200 one week earlier.
It means one in 65 people (1.48 per cent of the population) were carrying the virus during the week, the most recent data is available for.
Meanwhile, cases fell in Wales, where 39,600 (one in 75 people) were infected, and the trend was uncertain in Scotland (91,100) and Northern Ireland (28,900).
Mrs Keenan, who has lived in Coventry for more than 60 years but is originally from Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, made global headlines after receiving the world’s first approved vaccination on December 8 2020.
The grandmother-of-three has frequently urged people to take up each new jab as they have been dished out.
She received her first dose from May Parsons, modern matron for respiratory services at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust.
Ms Parsons said: ‘Vaccinating Maggie with the first approved Covid-19 vaccine was a wonderful moment that I am so proud of — but that was only the beginning.
‘That moment kickstarted the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in our history. It prevented hospital admissions, it got the country back to normal and it saved lives.
‘All of the staff in hospitals and our communities went above and beyond during the pandemic to look after patients despite the risks the virus posed to themselves across health and care.
‘We would not be where we are today without the efforts of the NHS and the way everyone went above and beyond to roll out the vaccine at speed and precision.’