Around one in six over-80s in England have already received an autumn booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine, new figures suggest.
Some 16.2% of those aged 80 and over – nearly half a million people – are estimated to have had the jab by September 18, according to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
A similar proportion (16.0%) of 75 to 79-year-olds have also received the booster, along with around one in 15 (6.6%) of people aged 70 to 74.
The figures come as the number of people in hospital in England who have tested positive for coronavirus is starting to show signs of an increase, after falling steadily for two months.
The booster roll-out began in England on September 5 with doses being given to residents in care homes.
Since September 7, people aged 75 and over have been able to book an appointment for a jab, along with frontline health and care workers, and people with a weakened immune system.
This was widened on September 12 to include all those aged 65 and over, plus carers and pregnant women.
NHS director of vaccinations and screening Steve Russell said: “The autumn booster campaign is off to a flying start, with thousands of care homes visited and nearly two million people already boosted against Covid-19 ahead of winter.
“People should not delay maximising their protection – everyone aged 65 and over can book in online or by calling 119 to top-up their immunity.”
The number of people in hospital in England with Covid-19 stood at 5,142 on September 21, up 13% week-on-week, according to the latest NHS data.
Patient numbers topped 14,000 in mid-July at the peak of the wave of infections caused by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of the virus.
The figures then started to fall and remained on a downwards trend until the middle of this month, since when they shown a slight increase.
Dr Susan Hopkins, UKHSA chief medical adviser, said: “While Covid-19 rates are still low, the latest data for the last seven days indicate a rise in hospitalisations and a rise in positive tests reported from the community.
“For those eligible, the time to get your autumn booster is now. Getting a booster will give your immune system time to build up your protection against being severely ill from Covid-19 as we move into winter.
“As it gets colder and we head towards winter, we will start to see respiratory infections pick up – please try to stay at home if you are unwell and avoid contact with vulnerable people.”
Bookings for the booster dose can be done online or over the phone, as long as the person had their last Covid jab at least three months ago.
An autumn booster will eventually be offered to everyone aged 50 and over.
The dose is intended to increase protection against coronavirus ahead of the winter, when infection levels are likely to rise.
Overall, around one in 20 people aged 50 and over in England (5.7%) are estimated to have already received their autumn booster, the UKHSA said.