A second Covid-19 booster vaccine is now being rolled out across the UK.
Those in the most vulnerable groups are being invited to come forward to receive a fourth – or for some people, a fifth – vaccination.
It comes as cases rise sharply again across the country, thanks to restrictions ending and the emergence of a highly infectious BA.2 offshoot of the Omicron variant.
More than 607,000 people reported testing positive in the seven days up to 22 March – a 36.8 per cent increase on the week prior. Hospitalisations have also risen by 25 per cent, and deaths are up by 8 per cent.
With cases rising, here’s what you need to know about the spring booster, and who can currently get it.
Who is eligible for the spring booster?
Care home residents, everyone aged 75 and over, and those aged 12 and over who are immunosuppressed will be eligible for the spring booster.
For some immunosuppressed people this may be their fifth jab, as extra doses were given to those with certain health conditions.
Adults will be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, with those aged between 12 and 18 getting the Pfizer jab.
The NHS also continues to offer the vaccine for those who are yet to come forward for one, even if it is your first dose.
How do I book the booster?
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination program will contact people when they are due to be vaccinated.
Once invited, they will be able to book their vaccination appointment online via the NHS website or by calling NHS 119.
Around 600,000 people will be invited this week, and about five million will be able to get a spring booster dose in total.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said on Sunday: “The NHS Covid-19 vaccination program has not stopped in its efforts to protect people from coronavirus – around five million of the most vulnerable people will be eligible for a spring dose, and from tomorrow, we will start giving eligible groups their additional top-up in protection.
“We have protected millions of people at speed thanks to the efforts of our staff, aided by volunteers. They will once again rise to the next challenge.
“There is no need to contact the NHS – when you are eligible for your ‘spring boost’ of protection, we will be in touch so you can book your appointment at one of hundreds of vaccination sites across the country.”
Will everyone get a fourth jab?
The Government has indicated that a fourth jab could be made available to everyone by the end of the year.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference last week, Boris Johnson said: “I hope you’ve all had your boosters? Well, we’re getting ready for a fourth jab, because we’re going to need it. “
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told ITV’s Peston: “When it comes to vaccinations I think we rightly take the advice of our clinicians.
“JCVI [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] look at the data very, very carefully and their latest advice is that there should be a second boost – or let’s call it a fourth dose – but to focus on those over 75, those in care homes, those who are immunosuppressed. “
When pushed as to whether this would be eventually be widened to the general population, Mr Javid said: “I think at some point they will… their most recent advice is that they think that towards the end of this year, maybe in the autumn, there will be a need to give a lot more people a boost, but I’ll wait for that advice. “