Deadline to protect yourself from Covid by Christmas is fast approaching, experts warn

BRITS have limited time to get their booster jab if they want the maximum amount of protection on Christmas Day, the Government says.

The big day is one month away and families are bound to get together for a blowout after having to spend last year apart under lockdown rules.

There are no current plans to put a cap on Christmas celebrations.

While it's good news, it means catching Covid from relatives poses a risk, even after vaccines have been given to millions of people.

In order to have more than 90 per cent protection against Covid illness and hospitalisation, experts say it’s time those eligible book their top-up jab.

It takes around 14 days for antibodies to grow after an injection.

Therefore, December 11 is the deadline day for optimal protection. 

A Department of Health and Social care spokesperson said: “People who have had their booster vaccine by 11 December will have very high protection against Covid-19 by Christmas Day.

“Following a rise in cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe, those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

Europe has seen a wave of infections over recent weeks that have led authorities to force shutdowns across the continent.

Experts are confident the UK is unlikely to see the same fate provided that uptake for boosters is strong.

You can get a booster vaccine if you are over the age of 40 and it’s been six months since your second dose.

Bookings are open from the five-month mark so you can get a booster on the day you are eligible. 

The clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers can also get a top-up, regardless of age.

And third doses are also being offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and organ transplants, who are unlikely to have gotten full protection from two jabs.

So far about 16 million people have had a booster vaccine or a third dose across Britain. 

A number of Britain’s biggest charities have backed the booster campaign.

The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK are among 16 charities encouraging vulnerable people to take up the offer of a top-up jab.

The charities will also encourage patients to get vaccinated against flu – another winter virus that can be deadly. 

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “I am hugely grateful to all the charities who are backing our vaccine campaign and supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“With winter approaching, it’s so important that those who are at risk from the virus are protected in order to keep themselves safe.

“The vaccines are safe and effective and are helping us build a wall of defence against Covid-19. Please come forward for yours as soon as you can.”

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The fight against COVID-19 through the vaccines is a national mission and it’s brilliant to see so many different organisations step up to help get this message to those most at-risk.

“If you’re yet to get your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward for the jab as soon as possible.”

How much do boosters increase Covid protection?

Symptomatic infection

Adults aged 50 years and over have 93.1 per cent protection against symptomatic infection after two Oxford/AstraZeneca (AZ) doses.

This falls from 65 per cent, up to three months after the second dose, to 45 per cent six months after the second dose.

Those who had an initial course of Pfizer get protection of 94 per cent. 

This falls to 90 per cent after three months to 65 per cent after six.

But after boosters (of which all are Pfizer), protection goes up to 93.1 per cent in those who first got AZ, and 94 per cent in those who had Pfizer.

Hospitalisation

Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 per cent for AZ and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer between three and six months after the second dose.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: “Whilst we don’t yet have data on protection against hospitalisation and unfortunately people dying from Covid-19, we can expect protection to be even higher than that figure of 93 per cent because that’s what happened so far in the vaccine programme.”

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