The Guardian

Britons urged to get booster jabs ‘in time for Christmas’

- Andrew Gregory Hannah Devlin

Ministers are urging millions of Britons to get their Covid booster jab by 11 December to ensure they have “very high protection against Covid-19 by Christmas Day” as evidence shows the risk of infection rises the longer the time since the second dose.

The fresh warning comes after case numbers broke records in parts of Europe yesterday, with the continent once again the centre of a pandemic that has brought new restrictio­ns.

About 16 million people have had a booster vaccine or third dose in the UK. All aged 40 and over and those clinically vulnerable are eligible for a booster six months after a second jab.

“If you’re yet to get your first, second or booster dose, please [get] the jab as soon as possible,” said Maggie Throup, the vaccines minister.

A health department spokespers­on said: “People who have their booster vaccine by 11 December will have very high protection against Covid-19 by Christmas Day. Following a rise in cases … those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves and their families, and help reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

Previous research showed that two weeks after a booster people had a very high level of protection from symptomati­c Covid-19. New research shows immunity against infection falls significan­tly in the six months after two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Experts said the study showed the importance of boosters.

The findings, based on a study of 80,000 people in Israel, showed that the chances of a breakthrou­gh infection were roughly double four months after the second dose of Pfizer/BioNTech and increased more than tenfold by six months.

Previous work showed vaccines to be highly effective at preventing hospitalis­ations for at least six months but that protection against infection fell more steeply.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, was based on health records of just over 80,000 people who had a PCR test from Mid-May to September at least three weeks after a second vaccine. No one in the sample showed previous Covid-19 infection.

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