With COVID restrictions easing – do I still need a booster vaccine?

Figures show that 81% of eligible UK adults have now had three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that one fifth of eligible people, who’ve had their first two doses, haven’t yet come forward for their booster. In South West London, this equates to around 250,000 people.

One reason people are delaying booking a booster is, according to local GP Dr Caroline Scott, a belief that the Omicron variant is a mild disease – little more than a cold. And, that as Plan B restrictions are eased in England, COVID is pretty much over.

The virus is continuing to have a big impact

Says Dr Scott, “It’s true that daily COVID case rates are falling in London. But the virus is continuing to have a big impact and it’s important we do what we can to protect ourselves and loved ones, by getting vaccinated, whether you’re due a first, second or booster dose.” 

While Omicron may produce a mild disease in some people, this is not the case for everyone. Recent data published by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that people who have not been vaccinated are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19.

In addition, statistics issued before Christmas revealed that 97% of adults with COVID-19 symptoms in South West London hospitals were not fully-vaccinated with their first, second and booster dose. 

Not getting vaccinated puts you at greater risk of serious illness and death

Says Dr Scott: “Regardless of whether it’s Omicron or any COVID variant, not getting vaccinated puts you at greater risk of serious illness and death.”

There is also emerging evidence that vaccinations reduce the risk of developing many of the long COVID symptoms, which are so debilitating for many people post-virus.

Some people think that their natural immunity is enough to protect them from coronavirus. According to Dr Scott: “While having had the virus may give you some immunity, only being fully vaccinated with your first, second and booster dose, can offer you the best protection. Even if you’ve already had coronavirus, you could still get it again. The vaccine will reduce your risk of another infection and the seriousness of your symptoms.”

However, two doses are not enough. Data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) shows that getting a booster is 89% effective in preventing hospitalisation from COVID-19, and up to 75% effective in preventing symptomatic Omicron.

If you’re over 16 you can now book your booster as long as it’s been three months since your second dose. Adults over 18, who’ve had COVID-19, need to wait 28 days before getting any of their vaccine doses – that’s 28 days after a positive test for COVID-19 or 28 days after symptoms started, whichever is earlier. Young people aged 12 to 17 need to wait three months after infection before they are vaccinated.

We’ll be happy to answer your questions with no pressure to get the jab

Says Dr Scott says, “Your local NHS is running plenty of vaccination clinics near you, including pop-ups.  Remember if you’d like a chat about the vaccine, do call in to one of them. We’ll be happy to answer your questions with no pressure to get the jab. And it’s not just about boosters. If you haven’t had your first or second dose, remember our doors are always open.”

Book your vaccine on the NHS national booking system or visit one of our walk-in clinics today – the sooner you’re boosted, the better.