Doctors issue call to ‘protect yourselves and loved ones against Covid-19 this Christmas’

GPs in north east London are urging people to “act now to protect themselves and loved ones against Covid-19 this Christmas” as the NHS steps up its vaccination programme.

Amid growing concern over the spread of the Omicron variant, everyone aged 18 and over is now eligible for a booster jab which provides vital extra protection against the virus.

Thousands of people in north east London (NEL) have already come forward – with 27,000 vaccinations delivered in one day last week across Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Hackney and the City of London.

But thousands more are yet to have their all-important top-up jab and, with Christmas approaching, the NHS is encouraging people to book an appointment or visit a local walk-in vaccination site.

Dr Muhammad Naqvi, a local GP and clinical chair for Newham at NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There is understandable concern over Omicron due to the speed with which it is spreading and because two doses of vaccine do not appear to provide much protection, but thankfully evidence suggests that a third dose dramatically improves our defences.

“That makes it all the more important that people act now to protect themselves and loved ones against Covid-19 this Christmas by coming forward for their booster vaccine.

“Please don’t delay – having your booster can help prevent you from becoming seriously ill and requiring hospital treatment, and will also help protect your family and those around you.

“For those people who have still not yet had their first Covid-19 vaccine, now really is the time. Remaining unprotected against Covid-19 puts you and those around you at much greater risk.”

Latest figures show that between 1 November and 9 December 2021, 101 new Covid-19 patients were admitted to intensive care beds at hospitals across NEL. Of these, 83 had not yet received two doses of vaccine. This equates to just over 82%. Only 18 had received two doses.

Despite this, there still more than 600,000[i] people aged over 16 in north east London who are risking their lives by not coming forward for their first two Covid-19 jabs.

As well as offering first and second doses to unvaccinated people, the NHS began rolling out booster jabs last month at nearly 100 local sites across NEL. Anyone aged 18 or over can pre-book their booster on the national booking system now or call 119. Appointments are available throughout the week – including at weekends and in the evening – so you can select a time to suit you.

Vaccination sites in NEL are also offering a walk-in service so anyone aged 18 or over can simply walk in without an appointment. For site details, visit the ‘Grab a Jab’ NHS online walk-in finder.

More appointments for boosters – and first and second jabs for those who still need them – are being made available each day at a range of locations across NEL, including community sites and local pharmacies. Slots can also be arranged by ringing a local council booking line, and full details of all these are available on the North East London Health and Care Partnership website.  

[i] NOTE: This total includes those in younger age groups who only became eligible for vaccination in recent months.