14 December 2021

The covid vaccination booster programme in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin (STW) is set for a dramatic acceleration – with capacity to reach more than 10,000 jabs a day by the weekend.

Local health and care leaders have set a goal of jabbing up to 160,000 people by New Year’s Eve – including offering a booster to the 137,000 people aged 18 and over who will be eligible before the year-end.

It is part of a national drive to see all of the 18 million eligible over-18s across England offered a jab by 31 December in order to maximise immunity ahead of an anticipated covid wave in January brought about by the Omicron variant.

STW has been vaccinating in excess of 3,000 people a day in recent weeks, but that number is rising fast as a result of increasing capacity in community pharmacies, a scaled-up programme in the GP-led Primary Care Networks and extended opening hours in the region’s hospital hubs and vaccination centres. Capacity is anticipated to hit 10,500 a day by Saturday (18 December).

Angie Wallace, Senior Responsible Officer for the covid-19 vaccination programme in STW, said: “This is an ambitious programme but we are confident that we can deliver it.

“Our vaccination team, and all of our health and care partners, are working incredibly hard to increase vaccination provision to ensure everyone eligible is protected as quickly possible across our communities.

“Everyone aged 30 and over is able to book their booster jab via the National Booking System and that will be extended to everyone aged 18 and over from tomorrow (Wednesday 15 December),” she added.

“People will be able to access walk-in clinics as well, but pre-booked slots will be prioritised and we would urge people to book if possible in order to guarantee their jab.”

The Omicron variant was first identified by South African doctors last month, and has shown to be more easily transmissible than previous strains.

While early evidence suggested that younger people were suffering milder symptoms, there is not yet enough data to say how severely it will impact on older populations.

Hospitals in the UK are now starting to admit Omicron patients, and the first death attributable to the variant was recorded yesterday (Monday 13 December).

“All the evidence shows us that the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire across the country, and will be the dominant strain in all areas within a matter of days,” added Angie.

“Unvaccinated people and those who have had just one or two doses do not have sufficient protection – the clinical evidence shows that people need a booster jab to improve their chances of having good immunity against suffering with symptoms.

“Over 18s are eligible for a booster three months after their second dose, and can actually book a slot two months after that second dose. I would encourage everyone who is entitled to take up the offer as soon as they can.”

Some vaccination sites are offering a walk-in service for 18s and over, but with demand high and queues at many sites, people are being asked to be patient and continue to check the details of walk-in and pop-up’s on the Integrated Care System’s website: COVID-19 Vaccination Walk-in and Pop-up Clinics (stwics.org.uk).