Coronavirus: Booster jabs 'crucial', says Norfolk health chief
Health chiefs in Norfolk have warned coronavirus booster vaccinations will be "crucial" in helping to prevent a surge in demand for the NHS this winter.
Work to administer third jabs to over-50s and people in other higher risk groups is set to begin next week, after the Government set out its winter Covid plan on Tuesday.
And, with current infection rates in West Norfolk still high, officials have made a fresh plea for people to take up the protection available.
Dr Anoop Dhesi, clinical chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney clinical commissioning group, said this evening: “This booster jab is crucial as there are some signs that protection offered by the first two vaccines may start dropping off several months after the second dose.
“As we go into winter and the colder weather we see an increase in respiratory viruses in the community. This booster will help us keep people out of hospital during what is always a busier season for the NHS.
“The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being recommended for the third, booster dose – irrespective of which vaccine you had the first time.
“The booster can be given alongside the flu vaccination but we may not be able to offer these in the same appointment for everyone.
“Both the flu jab and the covid booster are crucial to being best protected this winter so please be prepared to come in for two separate appointments if needed.”
The booster jabs are being offered to people aged over 50, care home residents, health and social care workers, all over-16s with underlying health issues that make them more vulnerable to the virus, adult carers and close contacts of people with weakened immune systems.
People in the affected groups are being asked to wait for their GP surgery to contact them.
Latest infection data for West Norfolk showed a slight fall in week-on-week infections, although there were still over 400 confirmed cases.
Last week, the CCG launched a text drive to encourage people who haven't yet had both their vaccines to do so.
And Dr Dhesi renewed the plea for people who aren't yet jabbed to attend a vaccination centre, particularly if they work in a care home – where proof of double vaccination will be required as a condition of entry from November 11.
He said: "We really need to vaccinate the remaining seven per cent of local people quickly now so our teams can then concentrate on third doses for the most vulnerable."