Leading UK health charities join forces to boost vaccine uptake

25 November 2021

Today, 25 November 2021, Rethink Mental Illness has partnered with 15 leading health charities, the government and the NHS to boost vaccine uptake amongst the country’s most vulnerable this winter.

The coalition brings together 16 charities who will work to encourage their members to get their first, second and booster doses as soon as they can, as well as their third primary course dose if they’re immunocompromised. The organisations will encourage people to get their flu vaccines, to keep them as safe as possible this winter. Terrence Higgins Trust, Carers UK and Epilepsy Action have also taken part in a short film that will be shared over social media.

As the weather turns colder and people are spending more time indoors mixing with family and friends, it's crucial that those who are vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 and flu come forward for the jabs they need.

People aged 40 and over, health and social care workers or those aged 16 and over with an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness are now eligible for booster vaccinations, provided it’s been six months since their second dose.

The organisations will be using their extensive networks to provide information and reassurance to vulnerable people about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines, including on their social channels.

The intervention comes as the UK hits its next milestone in the vaccine rollout with just over 16 million boosters and third doses administered in total.

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive, Rethink Mental Illness says:

“The booster vaccine is the most positive step you can take to help protect yourself and others from becoming unwell from coronavirus this winter. People living with mental illness are unfortunately more likely to become seriously unwell with COVID-19, so it’s particularly important that they come forward for their next dose of the vaccine as soon as possible. We’d encourage people to discuss any concerns or worries with a healthcare professional who can provide them with the support they need to be safely vaccinated.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said:

 “I am hugely grateful to all the charities who are backing our vaccine campaign and supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society. With winter approaching it’s so important that those who are at risk from the virus are protected in order to keep themselves safe. The vaccines are safe and effective and are helping us build a wall of defence against COVID-19. Please come forward for yours as soon as you can.”

The charities taking part in the coalition include:

  • African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust
  • Anthony Nolan
  • British Heart Foundation
  • British Liver Trust
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Carers UK
  • Diabetes UK
  • Epilepsy Action
  • Epilepsy Society
  • Kidney Care UK
  • Kidney Research UK
  • Macmillan
  • Parkinson's UK
  • Rethink Mental Illness
  • Sickle Cell Society
  • Terrence Higgins Trust

A total of 16,004,629 million people in the UK have already received their booster vaccines and third doses, securing crucial protection ahead of the winter.

More than 50.8 million first doses (88.4%) and 46.2 million second doses (80.4%) have been given across the UK. 

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: 

“This partnership with health charities is vital to allow us to reach the groups most in need of a COVID-19 vaccine to keep them safe from the virus. The fight against COVID-19 through the vaccines is a national mission and it’s brilliant to see so many different organisations step up to help get this message to those most at-risk. If you’re yet to get your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward for the jab as soon as possible.”

This week, the National Booking Service opened to people aged 40-49 for their booster jab, as well as young people aged 16-17 who aren’t clinically at risk for their second jab.

This means people who have had their booster vaccine by 11 December will have very high protection against COVID-19 by Christmas Day. Following a rise in cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe, those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.                                                                                                           

Third doses are also being offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their first or second dose, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and organ transplants. These people may not mount a full response to vaccination and therefore may be less protected than the wider population.

The latest evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) shows that protection against symptomatic disease falls from 65%, up to three months after the second dose, to 45% six months after the second dose for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and from 90% to 65% for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95% to 75% for Oxford/AstraZeneca and 99% to 90% for Pfizer/BioNTech.

Although the vaccine effectiveness against severe disease remains high, a small change can generate a major shift in hospital admissions. For example, a change from 95% to 90% protection against hospitalisation would lead to doubling of admissions in those vaccinated.

The offer of a first and second COVID-19 vaccine remains open to anyone who is eligible. Vaccines are available free of charge and from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England and vaccinations are taking place at sites including mosques, community centres and football stadiums.

Vaccines are also available for those aged 12 to 15 to offer the best possible protection this winter in schools, as well as more than 200 vaccine centres.



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