Time is running out for people in Bath and North East Somerset who are still yet to have their Covid-19 booster vaccination.
After Sunday 12 February, any person aged between 16 and 49-years-old and not in a clinical risk group will be unable to get the initial Covid -19 booster, which for most people would have been their third vaccination for coronavirus.
This date is also the last opportunity for people over the age of 50 to come forward for the autumn booster vaccine, which was rolled out to older people, as well as those who are considered vulnerable, at the end of 2022.
Boosters were first offered to adults over the age of 16 at the end of 2021 as a way of significantly increasing immunity in light of the emergence of the then-new Omicron strain of Covid-19.
Data shows that immunity provided by Covid-19 vaccines decreases over time, so it is important for eligible people to come forward before 12 February to ensure they remain fully protected and less likely to spread the virus to others.
Local health leaders are now calling on any people who have continued putting off having their immunity to Covid-19 topped up to come forward before the end of next week.
Gill May, Chief Nurse, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “While it is ultimately good news to be able to transition from pandemic to pandemic recovery, we want to take this next step safely, with as many people as possible fully protected against Covid-19.
“There was a fantastic response in our region to the original call to get boosted, with people coming forward, almost overnight, in their tens of thousands.
“Having the booster vaccine helps to prolong the immune-boosting effects of the first two jabs, and significantly reduces the likelihood of somebody falling seriously ill from Covid-19.
“We now want to ensure that those who held off at the first time of asking have the chance to receive a booster before it’s too late.”
The move to remove the booster offer comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which acts as an independent adviser to the Department of Health and Social, revealed that uptake of the jab had slowed significantly in recent months.
As well as this, the JCVI has indicated that the offer of having the two primary Covid- 19 vaccines at any time will also change during 2023, with the overall vaccination campaign being refocused to target those most vulnerable.
In another sign of things shifting from response to recovery, a number of Covid-19 vaccination centres across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire have closed in recent weeks.
The vaccination centre at Bath Racecourse closed in December 2022, and was followed in January by Salisbury City Hall and the Steam Museum in Swindon.
Despite the closures, vaccine availability in the region remains strong with many smaller venues, including GP practices and community pharmacies, offering the jab.
People can find their nearest vaccination centre, as well as book an appointment to get vaccinated, online at http://www.nhs.uk.
More information on the local Covid-19 vaccination programme, including an extensive list of frequently asked questions, is available at http://www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.