More than 600,000 people invited for booster as Covid-19 infections surge

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.

Around one in 16 people in private households in England – or 3.5 million people – are likely to have had Covid in the week to March 19, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This is up from one in 20, or 2.7 million people, in the previous week and is the third week in a row that infections are estimated to have risen.

Since rolling out spring boosters last week, more than 470,000 people have come forward for a jab, NHS England said.

Coronavirus – Mon Mar 21, 2022
Devraj Jhalam, 95, receiving his second booster shot of the Covid-19 vaccine in Slough, Berkshire (Jonathan Brady/PA)

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.

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 ONS said.

The figures are further evidence that Covid-19 is becoming rapidly more prevalent in the UK and come as the number of people in hospital with the virus continues to increase.

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

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%).

Prevalence of Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

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.

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.”

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.”

Jersey Evening Post