Covid booster vaccine: Maternity support worker kicks off NHS campaign with one of the first jabs

And so it begins again...the Covid booster campaign starts in England, ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports

A maternity support worker has spoken of her joy after becoming one of the first people in the UK to receive a Covid-19 booster jab and has encouraged others to get their booster shot when they're invited to do so.

Catherine Cargill, who works at Croydon University Hospital in south London, said the vaccination means she can carry on working, studying and spending time with her family.

The NHS in England officially launched its coronavirus booster campaign on Thursday, which will see millions of eligible people offered a Pfizer vaccine, or in some cases a half-dose of Moderna.

They include frontline NHS and social care staff, anyone aged 50 and over, and those under 50 with health conditions that put them at risk of severe Covid.

Catherine Cargill receives the first Covid-19 booster jab at the hospital she works at

People are likely to be offered their booster jab in the same order of priority as was set down during the initial vaccination campaign.

Ms Cargill said: “I’ve just had my booster vaccine, my Pfizer vaccine, and I have had it ahead of the winter season to make sure I am protected, to make sure I can carry on working, I can carry on spending time with my family, and so I can carry on with my studies.

“I would definitely want to encourage you to get your booster shot when you are invited to do that.”

Hospital hubs have started inoculating frontline health and care workers as well as identifying eligible patients, with GP-led local vaccination services to follow in the coming days.

'We have never been through a winter with Covid, and the flu, as well as a vaccine - so there are huge uncertainties,' says Health Editor Emily Morgan

Residents in care homes have also been receiving their third jabs today, including 83-year-old Evelyn Carey, who said "it's important we have" our booster jabs.

Speaking to ITV News at a care home in Cheltenham: "We're asked by the government to it and I think it's right that we should and I think everyone should have one."

She said she hopes she can be protected against Covid this winter, but added "nobody can be protected from everything but it will be a help if we have and it will keep us out of the hospital and the NHS which is most important."

GPs have been told they can give the winter flu jab at the same time if stocks allow, though they should not hold up administering either vaccination.

Further vaccination centres and community pharmacy-led sites will join the booster campaign from next week and continue vaccinating throughout the winter.

In line with guidance set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), people will only receive a booster shot at least six months after they received their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

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The Pfizer jab can be given as a third dose even if people originally received two doses of AstraZeneca.

NHS England said people will be contacted as they become eligible, via a call or text from a GP-led site or via the National Booking Service, which will start issuing invitations from next week.

However, some of those in the original nine priority groups will not be eligible for a top-up jab until the new year.

Covid vaccine booster: How will it work and who will get it first?

What is the Covid booster campaign?

The NHS in England officially launched its coronavirus booster campaign on Thursday September 16, which will see millions of eligible people offered a third Covid vaccine.

The campaign was launched after data from Public Health England (PHE) suggested that the protection provided by vaccines against severe Covid decreases gradually over time.

A third jab, therefore, will guard against any waning in its efficacy months after the second dose.

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Who will get the Covid booster first?

Residents in care homes, people aged 80 and over and frontline health and social care workers are among the people who will receive the Covid booster first.

The programme will be rolled out to the same priority groups as the first phase of the vaccination programme.

Covid-19 booster vaccine order of priority:

1. Resident in care homes for older adults and their carers

2. People over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers

3. People aged 75 to 79

4. People aged 70-74 and those deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable”

5. People aged 65 to 69

6. People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death - deemed as "clinically vulnerable"

7. People aged 60 to 64

8. People aged 55 to 59

9. People aged 50 to 54

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How long do I need to wait after my last vaccine dose?

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises the booster vaccine dose is offered at least six months after the second dose was given.

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How do I book the booster jab and how will I be notified?

Everyone eligible is free to arrange an appointment - rather than waiting to be contacted.

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Which vaccine will it be?

People will either receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or a half dose of the Moderna vaccine, regardless of which vaccine they have already had for their first two doses.

However, the JCVI has advised a "preference" for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, regardless of which vaccine brand someone received for their first two doses.

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Will the rollout apply across the UK?

The third jab will be offered to people in all nations in the UK.

Wales began its own Covid vaccine booster campaign in September and Scotland and Northern Ireland followed shortly after.

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Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the Covid vaccination programme, said: “Alongside one of our busiest summers in the NHS, our hardworking staff have also been gearing up to deliver the autumn booster programme, to give further protection to healthcare and social care workers and those most at risk from the virus.

“Now that the decision has been taken by the JCVI, and once the relevant checks are in place, the NHS will invite you for your booster vaccination.

The NHS begun its Covid-19 booster campaign on Thursday. Credit: PA

“There is no need to contact the NHS – we will be in touch with you when it is your turn to get your booster vaccine – at least six months on since your last dose.

“The fast preparations of staff to get ready for boosters comes on the back of our biggest vaccination drive in health history, which has delivered more than 77 million vaccinations across the country.

“Getting the vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself and those around you from Covid – so please do come forward for this top-up of protection when you are invited.”

Credit: PA

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is brilliant to see that the first booster jabs are being rolled out today – thanks to the phenomenal efforts of the NHS who continue to work tirelessly to help us fight Covid-19 and protect the most vulnerable.

“We know vaccines save lives and, with every jab, our wall of defence across the country gets higher, with more than 112,300 lives saved and over 24 million cases prevented in England alone.

“I urge everyone who is eligible to come forward for their booster when invited, to prolong the protection that the vaccine offers those most at risk as we approach the winter months.”