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Cases and hospital admissions for the virus have both started to creep up in the last fortnight. Latest data on Monday showed 4.67 million people had received a top-up jab since September 5.

The figure was far higher than the 1.2m booster doses that had been administered by the same date last year, although the figures are not directly comparable due to differences in eligibility criteria.

NHS director of vaccinations and screening, Steve Russell, said: “The NHS is leaving no stone unturned in its mission to stop the potential ‘twindemic’ this winter, with 4.6 million autumn booster jabs already delivered and the national flu campaign well underway to combat lower than usual levels of immunity to flu due quieter flu seasons over the pandemic.

“The vaccine is still our best protection against this difficult virus and with the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 on the rise once again, I urge anyone eligible for the autumn booster to book their latest dose without delay through the NHS website or by calling 119, and help protect yourself and your loved ones this winter.”

One in 65 people in private households in England – or a total of 857,400 – were estimated to have been infected in the week to September 17.

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