3m adults in England still have no Covid vaccine
By Michelle Roberts
Digital health editor
Nearly three million adults in England have still not come forward for a Covid vaccine, data reveals.
Experts say the figure includes some people who could get extremely sick if they were to catch the virus.
Most elderly and vulnerable people have already had several protective shots.
Getting fully immunised saves lives by cutting the risk of severe Covid illness, although it cannot fully stop infections. Cases have been rising rapidly in the UK in recent weeks.
An estimated 2.7m people – or one in every 25 – is thought to be infected.
Fresh waves of Covid are also being seen in other countries because of waning immunity and new Covid variants. The virus keeps mutating or changing.
The chief of the World Health Organization has warned that the pandemic is “nowhere near over”.
Rising infections across Europe have prompted EU health agencies to recommend a second Covid booster shot for people over 60, as well as people who are medically vulnerable.
Spring boosters are being offered to over-75s and other high-risk people in the UK.
The number of people in hospital in England who have tested positive for Covid has been climbing for weeks, but there are signs the rate of increase may now be slowing.
A total of 13,336 patients were in hospital on 11 July.
The last time the figure was this high in England was in late April, and it is close to the peak of 16,600 reached during the previous wave of infections in the spring.
Ministers say Covid restrictions could be reintroduced if pressures on the NHS became too much, but there is no suggestion that will happen.
Instead, the focus is on getting people vaccinated.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, who is Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said “fresh approaches” were needed to tackle the persistent low uptake observed in some groups.
In a report, the committee said NHS England should aim to reduce the number of unvaccinated adults by 500,000.
Dame Meg said officials “must build on the initial successes of the vaccine programme and redouble efforts to reach people who are unvaccinated”.
A government spokesperson said it was “working hard” to reach unvaccinated people, highlighting the use of walk-in and mobile vaccination clinics and “bespoke messages from trusted voices – such as faith and community leaders”.
How to get your vaccine
Anyone who is eligible for a Covid vaccine in the UK – which includes children aged five and above – can still get a free one. It might be a first, second or third dose, or a booster shot.
You can book them online or go to walk-in centres.
What about this winter?
Experts have already said that many people will be offered another booster in the autumn, ahead of what could be another difficult winter when other viruses, like flu, are also circulating.
So far, the UK expects to offer the shots to:
- residents in a care home for older adults and staff
- frontline health and social care workers
- all those 65 years of age and over
- adults aged 16 to 64 years who are in a clinical risk group
The advice could change if another bad variant of Covid were to emerge and mean more people needed to be on the list for a top-up of protection.
Meanwhile, manufacturers are tweaking vaccines to make them a better match for the virus as it changes.
Moderna says it is advancing two Omicron vaccine candidates that could be ready for the autumn. One if them is designed around the latest BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron.
FAUCI: SUBVARIANT IS SERIOUS, BUT DON’T ‘LET IT DISRUPT OUR LIVES’
Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that a new omicron subvariant on the rise is something to take seriously but should not be a cause for panic.
The subvariant, known as BA.5, now makes up the majority of COVID-19 cases in the United States. It is even more highly transmissible than earlier variants of the virus, and has an increased ability to evade the protection of vaccines and prior infections.
The White House on Tuesday released a fact sheet with its plan for fighting the subvariant, which was largely a continuation of measures the administration had previously emphasized.
US Officials discussing expanding booster eligibility
Biden administration health officials on Tuesday said they are discussing authorizing a second COVID-19 booster shot for all adults, but downplayed any imminent recommendations.
The White House has been working hard to promote second booster shots to Americans over the age of 50, which have been authorized since late March. People ages 12 and older who are immunocompromised are also eligible.
Lag in boosters: But while about 67 percent of all Americans have been fully vaccinated against the virus, only 34 percent of eligible Americans have received a booster dose, according to federal data. In addition, health officials are working on a fall booster campaign that will target specific variants of omicron, as evidence shows immunity from the first booster series is waning.
WORLD COVID STATS