Over a million people in the Midlands have now had their COVID-19 top-up jab, as the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme continues at pace to protect those most at risk from coronavirus.

The region became the first to hit the milestone after the NHS kicked off the booster programme on September 16, within two days of updated advice from the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

People who received their COVID-19 second dose before 30 April and are over 50 or at risk are eligible now.

Nearly 16 million vaccines have already been delivered in the Midlands since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.

There are more clinics delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including pharmacies, GP practices and other convenient community sites – almost every person registered with a Midlands GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination location.

Alison Tonge, the NHS England and NHS Improvement director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said: “It is fantastic to see the public step up to do all they can to keep building our wall of defence against COVID-19 with over a million already coming forward for their top-up vaccine. There are still a further one million people eligible for the booster vaccine who have yet to have their jab so I would urge them to get protected as soon as possible.

“One of the most important things you can do this winter if eligible is to book your booster and flu vaccine to strengthen your immunity, reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 and stop yourself getting seriously ill. While we remain ahead in the race between the vaccine and virus, the gap is narrowing and the top-up jabs boost your protection. The message is simple: get vaccinated, get boosted, get protected.”

The NHS will contact you to offer you a booster vaccine if you are eligible and it has been at least six months (182 days) since the date of your second vaccine dose. Anyone receiving an invite should come forward as soon as possible to get crucial protection.

If it has been longer than six months and one week since you had your second vaccine dose, and you are eligible but haven’t been contacted, please try to book your appointment on www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or if you can’t use the website, by calling 119.

The booster programme is being delivered through existing sites including pharmacies, hospital hubs, GP practices and vaccination centres.

Those who are eligible for a booster at least six months on from their second dose include:

  • those living in residential care homes for older adults
  • all adults aged 50 years or over
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • all those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19 (as set out in the green book), and adult carers
  • adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

NHS staff have started vaccinating young people aged 12 to 15 at schools after the government accepted the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation to extend the vaccine offer to this age group. This group can also now book through the National Booking Service to get their jabs through a local vaccination site, providing an option for parents who may want to get their child vaccinated during half term.

The NHS has been vaccinating 16- and 17-year olds with a single dose since the start of August, with hundreds of thousands already protected.

Earlier this month, the NHS encouraged pregnant women to get the Covid-19 vaccine as data showed that nearly 1 in 5 of the most critically ill COVID patients were unvaccinated pregnant women.