By Rachael Grealish
All over 18s will be offered a COVID booster jab before the year is our as the Prime Minister says the government is launching ‘omicron emergency booster national mission’.
Speaking from Downing Street today, Sunday December 12, Boris Johnson says this is to ‘protect our freedoms’ in the coming year as he urged everyone to ‘get boosted now’.
The PM had originally set the target for the end of January 2022, but has brought it forward a month as omicron infections are doubling every two to three days, he confirmed.
In his address he said: “Vaccination is the key to beating covid and it works. The UK was the first country in the world to administer a vaccine, we delivered the fastest rollout in Europe and we’ve begun the fastest booster campaign too – with over half a million jabs delivered yesterday alone.
“These achievements, made possible by the extraordinary efforts of our NHS – including thousands of GPs and volunteer vaccinators – have literally saved countless lives and livelihoods in the country.
“We’re now facing an emergency in our battle with the COVID variant, omicron, and we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe.”
Referencing the government’s delay in acting on the virus in the past he said: “We know from bitter experience how these exponential curves develop.
“No one should be in any doubt there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.”
Johnson said in order to fight this variant two doses are ‘simply not enough’ and says from tomorrow, Monday December 13, all over 18s will be able to get their booster – providing it is three months since their second dose.
“It is clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need,” he continued, “But, the good news is our scientists are confirmed a third dose, a booster dose, will all bring our level of protection back up.”
The PM called it the ‘omicron emergency booster national mission’ and ‘unlike anything we’ve done before in the vaccination programme’.
As a result, however, the PM did say some other medical appointments will need to be postponed.
He said: “As we focus on booster and make this new target achievable, it will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the New Year.
“But if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year.”
The Prime Minister has today set out that the NHS will be given everything it needs to boost jabbing capacity, which will include:
- New vaccination sites set up across the country, including mobile pop up sites
- Increasing opening times for vaccination sites, to 7 days a week with more appointments early in the morning, in the evening and at weekends
- 50 military planning experts will help coordinate the national effort by supporting the NHS with logistics of the rollout
- Reprioritising the NHS workforce to deliver as many jabs as possible
- A national call for thousands more NHS volunteers
If Omicron is left unchecked the NHS is at risk of being quickly overwhelmed.
The PM confirmed the move to Plan B for England following its rapid spread, from this week coming.
Face coverings are now compulsory in most public indoor venues, people are asked to work from home if they can from tomorrow, and from Wednesday, December 15, negative lateral flow tests will be needed to enter nightclubs and large events, except for those who are double vaccinated and subject to approval from Parliament.