The government is encouraging all adults to bring forward their second jab bookings
Boris Johnson said the policy, which aims to reduce the wait between doses from 12 to eight weeks, would give people “maximum protection as fast as possible”.
In their rush to fully vaccinate people before more restrictions are lifted on 19 July, some GP-run sites and larger vaccination centres have been offering second injections just three weeks after first appointments.
This goes against the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s advice that there should be a gap of at least eight weeks between doses.
Professor Anthony Harnden, who advises the government on vaccinations, recently told the BBC that people should wait at least two months before receiving their second jab, referring to the eight-week mark as the “sweet spot”.
“The data suggests very strongly that the longer you leave that second dose, the better longer term protection you will have,” he said.
Those wishing to bring their second appointments forward can do so via the NHS Covid-19 app or via the health service’s online bookings page.
Slightly more than half of the UK’s population have now been fully vaccinated, with 34,027,302 second doses administered.
In total, 45,514,492 people have had at least one Covid-19 vaccine, which is equivalent to almost 90 per cent of the adult population, according to the government’s latest data.
Ministers announced this week that those who are double jabbed will not have to self-isolate from 16 August if they come into contact with a positive coronavirus case.
The fully-vaccinated are also being prioritised by the travel industry, with Heathrow setting up fast-track lanes for travellers who can prove they have had both doses.
Although the UK’s vaccine rollout has been a success, experts worry that the government’s decision to scrap mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing from mid-July is risky and could undo the progress that has been made to date.
Sir Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that “it’s not sensible to open up so much so fast”.
“Letting the virus spread in these circumstances encourages a new variant arising in the UK itself. We could create a variant resistant to the vaccine,” the Nobel laureate warned.