A senior health chief has urged people to get their Covid-19 booster jab as the NHS sends out a further two million invites this week.
NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said infection rates are rising, while the Government again ruled out a move to its coronavirus Plan B despite calls to bring in measures to curb the spread of the virus.
NHS England said more than five million people have already been given the additional jab since the vaccination programme began administering them last month.
And on Sunday, it said more than 800,000 people had their booster in the past 72 hours.
The Government has launched a media blitz in recent days encouraging people to get a booster, as well as urging those not yet vaccinated to get jabbed.
But Professor Adam Finn, who is on the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has warned that the vaccination programme will not be enough to bring current infection rates under control.
He said people need to be testing themselves, wearing masks and avoiding crowds in enclosed spaces in order to prevent “a real meltdown”.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said last week that new cases could reach 100,000 a day, but Downing Street has insisted there is still spare capacity in the NHS and that Plan B will only be activated if it comes under “significant pressure”.
Plan B includes working-from-home guidance and the mandatory use of face masks.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting that modelling seen by the Government predicts that there will be a rapid fall in infections within weeks without bringing in Plan B.
Asked if it is time to bring in Plan B to tackle the virus, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that “at the moment the data does not suggest that we should be immediately moving to Plan B”.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup told LBC Plan A is “working” and “where we need to be”.
Meanwhile, anyone who receives a text or letter inviting them for a booster jab is urged to take up the offer as soon as possible.
NHS England said 7.5 million people have already been invited by text, email and letter, encouraging them to book through the National Booking Service.
The NHS is following guidance that boosters should be delivered at least six months after the second dose, with current evidence suggesting this is the best time to increase immunity to Covid-19.
Messages will come from NHSvaccine and will include a link to the NHS website.
Currently around 10 million people in England are eligible for a booster, including health and care workers, those with underlying health conditions, and people aged 50 and over.
Prof Powis said: “Winter is coming and infection rates are rising and so it’s now really important that everyone receiving their invite for a booster vaccine from the NHS this week books in at one of the convenient vaccinations sites around the country offering this crucial, additional protection.
“Thanks to NHS staff, nine in 10 people have had a first dose, saving tens of thousands of lives, and now more than five million boosters have been delivered in the first month of the rollout.
“I would urge anyone receiving an invite this week to book in as soon as possible, the booster dose is proven to significantly increase protection against Covid and will provide vital protection this winter.”