Young people aged 16 and 17 will be able to get a Covid-19 booster in England from Monday (17 January).
Around 40,000 teenagers will be eligible for their top-up dose when the NHS national booking system opens at the start of the week, in the latest phase of the vaccination programme.
Under previous guidance, booster jabs were only recommended for clinically vulnerable teens who are most at risk from Covid-19.
Recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) showed that two doses of the vaccine is not enough to stop people becoming unwell from the Omicron variant, but a booster significantly increases protection against the variant.
Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and deputy lead for the NHS vaccination programme, said: “The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is expanding once again to offer eligible young people aged 16 and 17 the chance to book their boosters through the online booking service from tomorrow, with walk-in sites also available across the country, as the biggest and fastest vaccine drive in health service history continues at pace.
“Covid has caused so much disruption for so many families over the past two years, affecting young people’s lives and education, and getting vaccinated protects them, their family and their friends, letting them stay at school and continue socialising.
“We know that the best protection against coronavirus is to get vaccinated and I’d urge everyone, whatever your age, to come forward and get that vital top-up as soon as it is possible.”
Four in five adults boosted against Covid
Since the vaccination programme rolled out to 16 and 17 year-olds in August last year, more than 889,700 teenagers in England – seven in 10 people in the age group – have now had their first dose.
More than 600,000 have had their second jab and will be eligible to get boosted in the coming weeks, providing it has been three months since their last dose.
In line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance, the NHS cannot vaccinate 16 and 17-year-olds within 12 weeks, or 84 days, of a positive Covid-19 test.
Anyone in this age group who is considered at high risk from Covid-19 must wait four weeks, or 28 days, from the date of a positive Covid-19 test before getting any dose of the vaccine.
The NHS said invitations will be sent out this week encouraging teens to book an appointment through the online booking service, or by finding their nearest walk-in site.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “More than four in five adults in England have already been boosted, helping to protect them from severe illness and reduce the pressure on the NHS in the face of Omicron.
“We’re now extending the programme to 16 and 17-year-olds so they can top-up their immunity this winter to keep themselves and their friends safe.
“We can learn to live with Covid-19 if everybody comes forward for their vaccines and gets boosted now.”
How do I book an appointment?
People aged 16 and 17 In England should receive a letter or a text inviting them to book their booster vaccine dose when they are eligible.
Once invited to book, an appointment can be made online via the NHS national booking system.
It is also possible to book by calling 119 or by visiting one of hundreds of walk-in sites across England without an appointment.
The health service said almost every person who is registered with a GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination site.
To find your nearest walk-in centre offering booster doses, enter your details on the NHS website.