Vaccination chief urges people to get boosted as West Yorkshire hits the half million milestone

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The leader of the West Yorkshire Vaccination Programme has rolled up his sleeves to encourage people to get their autumn booster as soon as possible.

Dr James Thomas, Medical Director for the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board and practising GP, celebrated the rollout passing the half million milestone this week by getting his own top-up dose.

Just over a million people in West Yorkshire are eligible for the vital top-up jab, and over half of these have now been vaccinated. With COVID, flu and other respiratory illnesses in circulation and infection rates on the rise, Dr Thomas is urging everyone who is eligible to get their booster now to ensure maximum protection throughout the winter and festive period.

Dr Thomas said: “I am so grateful to our vaccination teams in West Yorkshire for all they are doing to get people protected ahead of what we know will be a hugely challenging winter. NHS staff and GP and pharmacy colleagues have been working flat out to protect those most susceptible to serious illness from both COVID and flu and delivered over 120,000 boosters a week during October, which is a fantastic achievement

.

“As we head into the winter months and busy festive season, the booster offers important protection and peace of mind for those at greatest risk and their loved ones, so if you are eligible for the booster and yet to come forward, I strongly urge you to roll up your sleeves and get the jab done!”

Everyone aged 50 and over, or who has a condition that puts them at greater risk from COVID-19 is eligible for the vital top-up jab to keep their immunity as high as possible this winter. This includes people with weakened immune systems, learning disabilities and pregnant women. Frontline health and care workers and unpaid carers are also eligible and being urged to protect themselves and those they care for by getting their booster and flu jabs.

Anyone eligible can book an appointment on the National Booking Service at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119 free of charge. The West Yorkshire programme is also running a large number of walk-in and pop up clinics in local communities to make it as easy as possible for people to get their booster. People can search for clinics near them at www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, Public Health Lead for the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, said: “It is great that so many people have already made the smart choice to get their booster. We know that with winter comes both increased infection levels and also increased socialising indoors where viruses spread more easily. The increase in COVID infections is very concerning and latest data the UK Health Security Agency shows that flu infection rates are also on the rise so I would urge everyone who is eligible to get both their booster and their flu jab to keep them safe this winter.

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