Covid: 600,000 people set for boosters next week as cases surge again

95-year-old Devraj Jhalam receives his second booster shot in Slough, Berkshire (Picture: PA)

More than 600,000 people will be invited for a booster jab next week as infection levels approach record highs.

Around one in 16 people in England – or 3.5 million people – are believed to have had Covid in the week to March 19.

This is up from 2.7 million people on the previous week, and is the third week in a row that infections have increased.

Since rolling out spring boosters last week, more than 470,000 people have come forward for a jab.

The NHS is asking people to wait to be invited before trying to book, and it’s recommended eligible people get their vaccine six months after their initial booster for maximum effectiveness.

Around 5.5 million people in England aged over 75 or immunosuppressed will be eligible for a spring booster over the coming weeks and months.

The steep rise in infections across much of the country is being driven by the Omicron BA.2 variant, a more transmissible form of Omicron.

More than five million people will be called up for a spring booster (Picture: PA)

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) are further evidence that Covid is becoming rapidly more prevalent in the UK – as the number of people in hospital with the virus continues to increase.

The percentage of people testing positive in England has increased across all age groups and regions, the ONS found.

Infection levels among over-70s remain at their highest since estimates began in May 2020, with around one in 20 (5.0%) likely to have the virus, up from one in 30 (3.5%).

Covid remains most prevalent among young children, however.

Around one in 12 (8.3%) aged between two and school year 6 are estimated to have had coronavirus last week, up from one in 16 (6.3%).

Dr Nikki Kanani, deputy lead for the NHS Vaccination Programme, said: ‘Over the course of the pandemic vaccinations have been key to helping society get back to normal and allowing us to enjoy time with friends, family and loved ones – and they continue to play a crucial role in protecting us all against Covid, so please do book in when invited.’

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