Top up for teens

People aged 16 and 17 across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire can now come forward for a Covid-19 booster vaccine.

Giving older teens the chance to top up their immunity will support young people across the region to stay protected from Covid-19, while at the same time help to limit the spread of the virus to those who are older and potentially more vulnerable.

Local vaccination sites including Bath Racecourse, the Steam Museum in Swindon and Salisbury City Hall are currently offering booster vaccines to all eligible adults over the age of 18, and now also 16 and 17-year-olds.

Booster vaccines cannot be given until three months have passed since the date of a person’s second jab, however, appointments for the top-up dose can be booked in advance after two months.

Vaccine experts have stressed that having the booster jab is the best way to stay protected against the Omicron variant of Covid-19, which has been proved to spread more easily between people.

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “Age gives young people a natural advantage against Covid-19, but it does not stop them from passing on the virus to their family and friends, many of whom could be older and much more susceptible to becoming seriously unwell.

“Having the Covid-19 booster vaccine is a proven way to not only stay healthy, but also to limit the spread of coronavirus, and with many of our vaccination sites now open to walk-ins, getting the jab has never been easier.

“We’ve given out almost 2.1 million vaccines over the last 12 months and, although local cases of Covid-19 remain high, the number of people becoming very ill or worse is much lower than where we have previously been, with much of that success a result of our terrific vaccination effort.”

Nationally, more than 889,000 16 and 17-year-olds have had one coronavirus jab, while the total for those who have had both stands at around 600,000.

Across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, around 75 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds have received their first vaccine, with just under half having had a second.

Since this age group became eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine in August 2021, pop-up vaccination clinics have been held at many places of education in the region, including Wiltshire College’s Lackham Campus.

As well as walking into one of the region’s many vaccination sites, people can still secure a vaccine appointment using the National Booking Service, which is available online at http://www.nhs.uk.

People should also use this web address to find their nearest walk-in vaccination site.

Further information on the local rollout of the vaccine, as well as an extensive list of frequently asked questions, can be found at http://www.bswccg.nhs.uk.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath

Meanwhile, Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse has spoken to the Health Secretary about the lack of accessibility of the Covid-19 vaccine to those who are housebound. She has questioned the Secretary of State before on this topic, yet little is being done to ensure that those who are housebound can effectively receive their vaccines. 

Over two-thirds of housebound people have not yet received their Covid-19 booster. Those who are unable to visit vaccine sites and clinics should not be forced to go without their vaccines, especially as most of these people are classed as vulnerable.

Housebound constituents are contacting their MPs with these concerns. Despite the Government’s reassurance that this group has been contacted, many are still left worrying and with little to no support. 

Ms Hobhouse said:

“The Government is still ignoring people who are clinically extremely vulnerable. They are rightly concerned about the lack of guidance and support. In Bath I have had a number of people get in touch to raise this issue. In some cases they have been fighting to get their booster for ages. 

“It is shocking that two-thirds of housebound people have not received the booster. The Government must ensure that the vaccines are accessible to everybody, including those that are housebound.”