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Elderly in UK Advised to Get Covid-19 Boosters in Light of Hospitalization Spike

The British government is actively encouraging individuals 65 and older in England to obtain their Covid-19 booster shot in response to a noticeable uptick in hospitalizations. Those eligible can schedule their booster shot via the NHS online portal, its app, or by phoning 119.

The intensified booster campaign is a strategic move to counteract the newly detected COVID-19 mutation, BA.2.86. While there’s been a surge in hospital intakes, the cases requiring intensive care units (ICU) have fortunately remained few. Health professionals reiterate that despite the virus’s ongoing evolution, vaccination continues to be a reliable shield against serious COVID-19 complications.

Though COVID-19 testing has been considerably reduced, making the exact case count elusive, the elevated hospital admissions hint at the virus’s broader transmission within the community. Current data reveals the admission rate for COVID-19-positive patients to be the most considerable since April, with 4.6 hospitalizations per 100,000 citizens. Nonetheless, this rate is still lower than last winter’s peak of 11.8 per 100,000. The majority of hospitalizations involve those aged 85 and above, followed by the age group 75-84.

During the previous autumn, a booster dose was made available to everyone aged 50 and up. However, this year’s advisory from the government’s vaccine committee suggests that only those aged 65 and above, alongside other high-risk groups, should be routinely given the booster. As a result of prior infections and vaccinations, a significant portion of the population now has an immune system better equipped to thwart severe illness, though not necessarily total infection.

The new BA.2.86 strain, speculated to be an offshoot of the Omicron variant, has registered 37 cases in England and 5 in Scotland. While the health sector is closely observing the variant’s progression, experts believe it’s premature to make definitive judgments. Steve Russell, the NHS’s chief of vaccinations and screenings, is fervently encouraging eligible persons to avail their vaccines this winter, underscoring the pivotal role they play in combatting both the flu and Covid-19.

Dr. Gavin Dabrera from the UK Health Security Agency has highlighted the consecutive weekly increase in COVID-19 detections and the corresponding uptick in hospitalizations. Despite this, ICU admissions have stayed relatively stable. Observations and assessments will be ongoing.

Apart from the NHS channels, local NHS entities and GP practices will also be extending offers for flu and COVID-19 vaccines. Those considering a flu shot can look up the nearest pharmacy that administers it.

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