More than 600,000 will be invited for Spring booster jab next week

More than 600,000 people will be invited for Spring booster jab next week as infection levels in England climb to record highs

  • Booster rollout continues as ONS estimates 3.5m may have had Covid last week 
  • The rise in infections is being driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant, the ONS said
  • ONS infection survey says virus remains most prevalent among young children

More than 600,000 people will be invited for a Covid-19 booster jab next week as infection levels climb close to record highs in England, with 3.5 million likely to have had the virus in the week to March 19.

This is around one in 16 private households in the country. 

The figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is up from 2.7 million people, in the previous week and is the third week in a row that infections are estimated to have risen.

The latest Government dashboard data reports that there have been 599,244 new positive cases in the seven days up to Friday, March 25, in the UK, with 492,389 of those in England.  

Since the spring booster’s rollout last week, more than 470,000 have come forward to get jabbed, NHS England said.

Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster over the coming weeks and months. 

Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster over the coming weeks and months (stock photo used)

The NHS is asking people to wait to be invited before trying to book, with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending that eligible people get their vaccine six months after their initial booster for maximum effectiveness.

According to the ONS, the steep rise in infections across much of the country is being driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant – a more transmissible form of Omicron.

The percentage of people testing positive for Covid-19 in England has increased across all age groups and regions, the ONS found.

A man wearing a face mask in January. More than 600,000 people will be invited for a Covid-19 booster jab next week as infection levels climb close to record highs in England

Infection levels among over-70s remain at their highest since estimates began in England in May 2020, with around one in 20 (5.0%) likely to have the virus, up week-on-week from one in 30 (3.5%).

Covid-19 remains most prevalent among young children, however.

Around one in 12 (8.3%) of those aged between two and school year 6 are estimated to have had coronavirus last week, up from one in 16 (6.3%).

The ONS infection survey is the most reliable measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 in the UK.

A woman in London pictured wearing a mask this week. This week hospitalisations rose to their highest level since the height of the Omicron wave in January

Government dashboard data also shows the number of positive tests in the UK fell 14.2 per cent in a week to 77,509 up to March 25, down from 90,349 last Friday.

The number of cases recorded last week was slightly higher due to a data issue in Scotland that saw several days’ worth of tests lumped together on Friday.  

But this week UK hospitalisations rose to their highest level since the height of the Omicron wave in January, jumping 17 per cent in a week to 2,227 on Monday, the latest date data is available for.

Dr Nikki Kanani, deputy lead for the NHS Vaccination Programme, said: ‘Over the course of the pandemic vaccinations have been key to helping society get back to normal and allowing us to enjoy time with friends, family and loved ones – and they continue to play a crucial role in protecting us all against Covid, so please do book in when invited.’

A man walks past The National Covid Memorial Wall, on national day of reflection to mark the two year anniversary of the UK going into national lockdown, in London, this week

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘I’m so grateful to our brilliant NHS staff and volunteers who have sprung into action yet again to rollout Spring boosters to keep the most vulnerable safe.

‘Vaccines remain our best line of defence against this virus, and it’s thanks to these protections that we are all able to do the things we love.

‘With hundreds of thousands more invites being sent to eligible people this week, it’s vital to come forward as soon as you can.’ 

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