FROM Monday Brits eligible for a vital booster shot can book themselves in a month before they are due their jab.
The booking system has been changed to make sure everyone with waning protection against Covid is topped up as soon as possible.
Boosters can be booked a month in advance from Monday[/caption]
The NHS will allow people to pre-book their booster five months after their second jab, in time for the day the reach the six-month eligibility mark.
Currently, someone can only book an appointment at six months, which is slowing the process down.
The Sun revealed on Thursday that ministers were plotting the move for next week.
Boosters are at the centre of the Government’s plan to keep Covid hospitalisations and pressure on the NHS down during a “challenging winter”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Covid-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your family ahead of a challenging winter and this change to the booking system will make it as easy as possible for people to book their booster jabs.
“This will accelerate the booster programme, ensure the NHS is able to vaccinate people as quickly as possible, and importantly help more people maintain protection against Covid-19 as we know immunity will dip over time.
“Please do not delay – come and get the jab to keep the virus at bay.”
The latest evidence shows that protection against Covid disease falls to 45 per cent six months after the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, down from 65 per cent after three months.
It goes from 90 per cent to 65 per cent for the Pfizer vaccine, according to the stats from Sage – the Government’s scientific advisory group.
Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 per cent for AstraZeneca and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer.
The effectiveness is still high. But even a small change can generate a major shift in hospital admissions.
For example, a change from 95 per cent to 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation would lead to doubling of admissions in those vaccinated.
The booster programme is designed to top up this waning immunity – and save te UK from a crippling Christmas lockdown.
Studies suggest a third dose brings protection back up to the high 90s.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The Covid-19 booster programme is making great progress – thank you to the NHS and everybody who has come forward so far to secure vital protection ahead of the winter.
“I encourage everybody eligible for a booster and flu vaccine to book your jab as soon as possible to keep yourself and your loved ones safe over the coming months.”
Last week, clinical guidance was updated to enable Covid-19 boosters to be given slightly earlier to those at highest risk.
It includes care home residents who may have received their second doses at different times to be vaccinated in the same session, as long as it has been five months since their second dose.
Those eligible for a free flu vaccine have also been urged to come forward and book an appointment at either their GP practice or their local pharmacy.
Flu, which can also cause serious illness, will circulate at the same time as Covid this winter.
It had been largely suppressed during the past two winters thanks to lockdowns, and experts fear of a huge wave because population immunity is low.