People aged above 40 are being urged to get a booster jab to help keep their family and friends safe during the Christmas period, amid a rise in cases in Europe.
The National Booking service will now be open to people who are aged 40-49 for their booster jab, as well as young people aged 16-17 who still need to get their second jab.
The new advice comes ahead of people gearing up to visit their loved ones and mix socially for Christmas festivities, as countries in Europe are now starting to see a worrying spike in cases and are bringing in further lockdown restrictions.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting your COVID-19 booster vaccine is the best way to keep yourself and your loved ones safe this winter and will help reduce the pressure on the NHS.
“While the government is continuing to monitor a wide range of data to ensure the country remains protected, we have very sadly seen a surge in cases in parts of Europe.
“The most important thing we can do to stop a similar rise in this country is get the jab.
“So please get your vaccines as soon as you can so we can keep the virus at bay.”
So far, a total of 14 million people in the UK have already received their booster vaccines and more than 50 million first doses (88.2%) and 46 million second doses (80.2%) have been given out.
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup added the booster jabs will help protect people’s loved ones during the winter period this year.
She said: “We must protect the gains we have made through our vaccination programme this winter, and I urge everybody to help make this happen
“Please get your boosters when eligible, and get your first and second doses if you haven’t already, to secure vital protection during the winter to keep you and your loved ones safe.”
To book a booster jab, people can call 119 or visit one of the hundreds of NHS walk-in sites across the country six months after their second dose without an appointment.