UK health minister: Get booster shot, avoid Christmas restrictions



U.K. citizens can help evade winter COVID-19 restrictions by getting a booster shot as soon as they’re eligible, U.K. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said Sunday amid a surge in cases across Europe.

Javid “strongly urged” everyone to get a third dose of the coronavirus vaccine — saying “immunity begins to wane after six months,” which means a booster shot is needed to keep older people and those at risk safe over the winter.

“If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas,” he said.

Many European countries are reintroducing various pandemic restrictions as cases surge once again. The World Health Organization has dubbed the European region the new “epicenter” of the global pandemic, warning the situation could grow dire as the weather cools. U.K. infections spiked earlier than the rest of Europe, peaking in late October, and scientists are hoping Britain’s wave may be subsiding.

In response to the latest outbreak, many European countries, including the U.K., have turned to booster shots as a solution, despite the WHO’s plea that the focus should be on raising the global vaccination rate first.

In the U.K., people over 50, health care workers, or those with serious health conditions are currently able to get a booster shot if they are at least six months out from a second dose.

Starting Monday, those eligible can start pre-booking a six-month booster appointment if they are at least five months removed from their last shot, “rather than waiting days or weeks for a convenient appointment,” the health department said.

In the U.K. more than 9.3 million people have already had booster shots.

According to the latest data, one in 50 people have had COVID-19 in England, with a higher infection rate in Wales, and a lower infection rate in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Ninety-two percent of the adults said on Friday that they would likely have a booster shot if offered.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email [email protected] for a complimentary trial.





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