The message going into Christmas this year is clear and simple – get your Covid-19 vaccinations and booster jabs.
That is the call going out from Manchester’s Director of Public Health David Regan as efforts continue to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant.
“The next few weeks really will be crucial in how the spread of this new variant is controlled,” he said.
“In Manchester we’ve made great strides over the past year in rolling out the vaccine, and reaching groups and communities where rates of uptake haven’t been as high as we’d like to see.
“We are learning more each day about this new variant and what effect our current vaccines have on it but, what we do know for sure is that the best protection against any form of Covid is to be fully vaccinated, and to have your booster injection when it’s your turn.”
Earlier this week the Government accepted recommendations from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) to accelerate the Covid vaccination programme to meet the threat posed by the Omicron variant.
They recommended the gap between first and second doses of the vaccine is cut from six months to three, and that people aged between 18-39 are eligible for booster doses three months after their second jab.
This makes more than 7m people eligible for their booster.
Please note that this is not yet available. Arrangements are being put in place to enable this to get underway as quickly as possible.
The booster vaccine offer will be opened up by age group to ensure the most vulnerable are vaccinated first. The national booking service will initially open up to people in their 40s and older people who would previously have had to wait six months before moving onto younger age groups.
The NHS will provide more information for the public about what will happen when as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who are already eligible should continue to come forward to get their jab. This can be done via the National Booking Sytem, or ringing 119.
The JCVI also recommended a second dose to all children aged 12 to 15 years old who are not already eligible.
Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council, Cllr Joanna Midgley said: “We really need to be doing everything within our power this Christmas to protect ourselves from Covid. Last year was heart breaking for so many people due to the wide range of restrictions which were put in place, so the more we can do not to jeopardise this year the better.
“This isn’t just about protecting yourself, but it’s about protecting friends and family you may see when celebrating over the festive period. So much has been overcome during the past year through the roll out of the vaccine, we can’t allow things to slip now.”