The elderly and most vulnerable to coronavirus have been urged to get their booster jabs as part of a "national mission" to stop a return to lockdown restrictions over the Christmas period. 

So far almost 10 million people in the UK have received a top-up jab, but around 30% of over-80s and 40% of over-50s in England are yet to receive a booster shot of vaccine, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said younger relatives should urge eligible parents and grandparents to take up the offer of a booster and the flu vaccine.

'A national mission'

Sajid Javid has urged anyone who is eligible to come forward and receive their Covid booster and flu vaccines in the run up to Christmas.

The Government is encouraging people to ‘top up’ their protection against Covid with winter approaching, as immunity from the vaccines starts to decrease after six months, especially for the elderly and vulnerable.

Almost 10 million people have received a Covid-19 booster jab, but the Health Secretary said it is a “national mission” for everyone who is eligible to get one.

Sajid Javid said: “We know immunity begins to wane after six months, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable, and booster vaccines will top-up their protection to keep people safe over the winter.

“I strongly urge everybody who is eligible for a Covid-19 booster or flu vaccine to take up the offer as soon as you can.

“For those not yet eligible, please help your parents, grandparents or vulnerable loved ones get their jabs, it could save their life.

“And if you haven’t yet had your first and second vaccines, it is not too late, the NHS will always be there to welcome you with open arms.

“This truly is a national mission.

“If we all come together and play our part, we can get through this challenging winter, avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas.”

'Protect you and your loved ones'

A further 4 million text invites will be sent out over the next week from NHSvaccine and will include a link to the NHS website, enabling anyone eligible to book an appointment at a convenient site nearby.

The Mail on Sunday reports claims that ministers are considering making booster vaccine status a condition for international travel, in a bid to encourage more people to book their third jab

Dr Nikki Kanani, deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme in England, said: “Thanks to the hard work and non-stop efforts of NHS staff, the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme has now vaccinated more than eight million people ensuring they are protected ahead of winter.

“The NHS has invited millions of people who are eligible for a booster vaccine, and with hundreds of walk-in sites or appointments available online if you prefer, it is quick and easy to get vaccinated, I’ve had my booster and I would encourage anyone who is eligible to come forward as soon as possible to protect you and your loved ones.”