The NHS has outlined plans to accelerate the COVID-19 booster programme as part of plans to protect the nation against the new Omicron variant.

In response to the threat of the new variant, vaccination sites have been asked to bring forward the deadline of giving booster vaccinations to adults over 30 from 31 January to 31 December, and also vaccinate adults aged 18 and over by the end of the year.

Staff from across the Joined Up Care Derbyshire partnership are in the process of understanding what that means for the local vaccination programme, including how many vaccinations will therefore be required, how the vaccine programme can be sufficiently staffed and ensuring the supply of the vaccine is available in the right places.

Local GP practices will have an increased role to play in the delivery of the December targets, and both the Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association are expected to provide guidance on what non-urgent activity practices can pause to free up their staff time to support the enhanced vaccine delivery. This will continue alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, and urgent and emergency care. This means some appointments will be postponed, but the NHS has asked people to be patient and consider the efforts being asked of practice staff.

Practices have already delivered more than three quarters of the vaccines in Derbyshire to date, while also delivering their traditional services, and will continue to work alongside community pharmacies, hospital hubs and the mass vaccination centre in Derby to deliver the programme. 

In Derbyshire, local NHS teams will also work with local authorities, and the voluntary and community sectors to prioritise delivery and make it as easy as possible for people to get their top-up protection, as well as redeploying admin and clinical staff to support with vaccinations.

The NHS has also declared a level 4 national incident, in recognition of the potentially significant increase in COVID cases and the new vaccination challenge.

Dr Steve Lloyd, Executive Medical Director at NHS Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group and senior responsible officer for the delivery of the vaccination programme in Derbyshire said: 

"Delivering the booster vaccinations quickly is crucially important to the nation's ability to respond to the Omicron variant. Ensuring people have the maximum protection will save lives and ensure our NHS is able to continue to provide care to the population. We are currently processing the capacity we need to deliver the programme by 31 December, but meanwhile the vaccination programme continues and I encourage everyone eligible to book their booster vaccine at the earliest opportunity via the national vaccination booking system." 

“In line with government’s request to focus maximum resource on getting jabs into arms, it’s vital too that people continue to come forward for urgent care and also for potentially life-saving checks for major conditions like cancer”.

“And my final plea is to please consider joining the thousands of vaccinators and volunteers who have already signed up to lend a hand – this mission wouldn’t be possible without them."

The NHS has advised that the best way to get your booster quickly is by booking online or by calling 119 but if walk in centres have capacity to do so, they can vaccinate adults aged 18 and over immediately. Anyone aged 18 and over and who had their vaccination at least 91 days ago is eligible for the booster.