The elderly and vulnerable have been urged to get their Covid-19 booster jabs as part of a “national mission” to help avoid a return to coronavirus restrictions over Christmas.
So far almost 10 million people in the UK have received a top-up jab, but around 30% of over-80s and 40% of over-50s in England are yet to receive a booster shot of vaccine, the Department of Health and Social Care said.
Three million more people in England are being invited to have their coronavirus booster jabs next week.
People over 50 and those most at risk from Covid-19 are eligible for a booster six months after their second jab.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said younger relatives should urge eligible parents and grandparents to take up the offer of a booster and the flu vaccine.
He said that if “we all come together and play our part” then the country can “avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas”.
“Almost 10 million people in the UK have received their Covid-19 booster and third jabs, a phenomenal achievement in under two months,” Mr Javid said.
“As we approach this milestone, I want to thank those who have come forward and urge everybody across the nation to get vaccinated, get protected and get boosted.
“We know immunity begins to wane after six months, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable, and booster vaccines will top-up their protection to keep people safe over the winter.
“I strongly urge everybody who is eligible for a Covid-19 booster or flu vaccine to take up the offer as soon as you can.
“For those not yet eligible, please help your parents, grandparents or vulnerable loved ones get their jabs, it could save their life.
“And if you haven’t yet had your first and second vaccines, it is not too late, the NHS will always be there to welcome you with open arms.
“This truly is a national mission.
“If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas.”