People across Lincolnshire are being strongly urged to ‘get boosted’ before Christmas, in response to the exceptionally quick spread of the Omicron covid variant.

The UK Health Security Agency last week confirmed a significant drop in protection against the Omicron variant from two doses of the covid vaccine, compared to previous/other variants, and so the entire country is being encouraged to get a booster vaccination, to maximise protection against Omicron.

“We know that having a booster vaccination significantly increases protection against the Omicron variant, preventing around 75% of people getting covid symptoms,” explains Rebecca Neno, Director of Covid and Influenza Vaccination Programmes, NHS Lincolnshire CCG.

“And that’s why the Prime Minister last weekend announced the extension of the booster programme to everyone aged 18 and over.  With Christmas less than two weeks away, getting ‘boosted’ is your best way to protect yourselves, your loved ones, and the festive season.  Remember – if you catch covid now, you will be isolating until at least Boxing Day.”

Anecdotally it seems some people are putting off getting their covid booster until after Christmas, because they are concerned about the possibility of side effects.

“Millions of people across the UK have had covid vaccinations, including 24 million who have already had a booster, and we know that side effects are rare and tend to be mild, lasting only a few days.  If you get your booster now, you will start to benefit from its protection in and around the run-up to Christmas.

“But if you leave getting your booster vaccination until after Christmas, there would appear to be every likelihood that rates of covid infection, which, driven by the Omicron variant, have already broken the daily record (78,610 on 15th December), will be significantly higher and so the chances of catching covid will obviously be greater.”

Whilst sizeable numbers of people are booking their appointment for their covid booster online via the National Booking System or by calling 119, with over 323,752 booster vaccinations given to-date in Lincolnshire (as of 14th December), they are reminded that GP practices are also still offering considerable numbers of vaccination appointments locally.

“Our GP practices continue to shoulder a significant proportion of all of the vaccinations given across Lincolnshire, and people can still choose to wait and be called for their vaccination by their local practice.  If this happens, when your GP practice contacts you please take up the offer and get vaccinated as soon as possible,” adds Rebecca.

“If you decide to book online instead via the National Booking System, and you can’t get straight through to an appointment, please keep trying – there is huge demand for appointments, but we are making more available every day, so it’s always worth having another go to book if you can’t get an appointment immediately.

“Also, if you have already booked an appointment for your booster vaccination for the New Year, it’s worth seeing if you can book one sooner, either online via the National Booking System, or by calling 119.  If you do this, your original appointment will automatically be cancelled once you have had your booster, so your original appointment can be used by someone else.”