More than 14 million people in the UK have now received their Covid booster vaccination.
A total of 387,057 boosters and third doses were recorded on Friday, bringing the total to 14,266,368, with more than a million boosters recorded since Tuesday.
The Southeast, Northeast and Yorkshire have now recorded more than 1.9 million top-up jabs, which means they will soon be joining the Midlands, who hit the milestone of two million jabs delivered this week.
Also this week, the government adopted advice from the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee (JCVI) to extend the booster program to 40-49 year olds – meaning millions more people will be entitled to their third dose starting next week.
Vaccines Secretary Maggie Throup said: “The launch of the vaccine is moving ahead with another incredible milestone – 14 million people across the UK signed up for a booster or third dose this winter to top up their protection against Covid-19.
“If you’re eligible, book in your jab or check out one of the hundreds of walk-through websites around the country. Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to make sure we can all look forward to Christmas this year. “
While vaccines offer great levels of protection, experts caution that immunity decreases over time, especially in older adults and at risk groups.
The latest findings from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) show that protection against symptomatic diseases decreases by 65% up to three months after the second dose; to 45% six months after the second dose of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine.
With the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, immunity drops from 90% to 65% in the same time window.
Meanwhile, protection from hospital stays between three and six months after the second dose drops from 95% to 75% for Oxford / AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer / BioNTech.
While these numbers seem to show only a modest decrease in protection, experts are quick to suggest that changing from 95% to 90% of hospitalization protection would double admissions in the vaccinated population.
Last month the clinical guidelines were updated to allow the booster dose to be given a little earlier in those at highest risk.
For example, nursing home residents who received their second dose at different times can now be vaccinated in the same session as long as five months have passed since their second dose.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests confidence in the vaccine is high. 94% of 50 to 69 year olds said they would likely get their booster vaccinations if offered. For those over 70, the number rises to 98%.
Boosters have also been delivered or booked in every senior care home in England where it is safe to do so, with almost nine out of 10 care homes already visited.
The government encourages people to book their flu vaccine through their family doctor or pharmacy when winter approaches.
The Department of Health and Welfare (DHSC) has also recalled that first and second doses of the Covid vaccine are still available for free at more than 2,200 vaccination centers nationwide – with the vast majority of people living within 10 miles of one .
In the UK, more than 50.7 million first doses and 46.1 million second doses were given.
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