More than half a million people in UK invited for Covid booster

About 3.5 million people in England are likely to have had coronavirus in the week to March 19

A man gets vaccinated at an NHS Trust pop-up vaccination clinic. Getty

More than 600,000 people in the UK will be invited for a Covid booster shot next week as infections in England climb close to a record high.

About 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.

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

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

The National Health Service is asking people to wait to be invited before trying to book.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommends that eligible people have their vaccine six months after their initial booster for maximum effectiveness.

About 5.5 million people in England aged who are immunosuppressed or aged over 75 will be eligible for a spring booster in the coming 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.

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

The percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus in England has increased in 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 about one in 20 (5.0 per cent) likely to have the virus, up week-on-week from one in 30 (3.5 per cent).

Covid-19 remains most prevalent among young children, however.

About one in 12 (8.3 per cent) of those aged between 2 years old and Year 6 (typically aged 10 to 11) are estimated to have had coronavirus last week, up from one in 16 (6.3 per cent).

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 Secretary Sajid Javid said: “I’m so grateful to our brilliant NHS staff and volunteers who have sprung into action yet again to roll out 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.”

Updated: March 27, 2022, 12:50 AM