The recent rapid rise in COVID-19 infections means Londoners must ensure their COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date, NHS London has said.
We are reminding the public that it is not too late to get a first, second or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to stay protected and reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has echoed the advice amid concerns over the spread of two variants of the Omicron strain of the virus, which are driving an increase in infections in London and across the country.
Dr Chris Streather, medical director for the NHS in London, said: “We want Londoners to be prepared, and owing to the steady rise in infection levels over the past few weeks, we are once again reminding people that it remains vital that they are fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Although we are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases climb, data shows the numbers of people being admitted to ICU and the number of deaths remain relatively low thanks to the success of the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the largest and fastest in the history of the health service.
“Alongside getting vaccinated, people should also continue to follow advice to help reduce the risk of catching the virus and passing it on to others.”
If you have any symptoms of a respiratory infection, and a high temperature or feel unwell, it is recommended that you try to stay at home or away from others – especially from older or vulnerable people. The use of face coverings in crowded indoor spaces and regular hand washing will also help to reduce the transmission of infection.
Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of public health for the NHS in London, said: “We are seeing increased levels of COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations in London. As we continue to live with COVID-19, the fundamentals of staying safe remain the same.
“Vaccination is the best defence against severe disease and hospitalisation, so I urge anyone who is yet to come forward for the vaccine to take it up as soon as possible. It’s not too late to get protected.”
Analysis by the UKHSA shows that Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 now make up more than half of new COVID-19 cases in England, accounting for approximately 22% and 39% of cases, respectively.
Omicron BA.4 and Omicron BA.5 were designated variants of concern on 18 May.
Omicron BA.5 is growing 35.1% faster than Omicron BA.2, while Omicron BA.4 is growing approximately 19.1% faster. However, there is currently no evidence these sub-variants cause more severe illness than previous ones.
Meanwhile, 67-year-old Eric, who lives in Hackney in north-east London, is encouraging fellow residents of the capital to avoid complacency and ensure they get jabbed.
Eric was diagnosed with smouldering myeloma (a pre-cancerous condition) in 2011. Although his condition is stable and hasn’t required treatment, he is acutely aware that it, along with his asthma, makes him particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
“I have benefited from the COVID-19 vaccination and would highly recommend everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated and boosted,” said Eric.
He added: “I had my first jab in January 2021 and have since had my full course of COVID-19 vaccinations including the booster. I contracted COVID-19 a few months ago. However, my symptoms were very mild, thanks to being vaccinated, and I fully recovered within 10 days.
Eric, who recently received his COVID-19 Spring booster, continued: “I believe that COVID-19 vaccination provided a lot of protection, and without it, I could have been seriously ill or died.
“The process of getting boosted was easy. I took my haematology consultant’s letter, which confirms that I am immunocompromised, to a local walk-in vaccination centre and received the vaccine quickly.”
Londoners can book a COVID-19 vaccine on the NHS website.