Tuesday, July 5, 2022

All adults to be offered booster jab this month due to Omicron ‘tidal wave’

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The prime minister gave a televised address this evening
The prime minister gave a televised address this evening (Picture: Sky News; EPA; PA)

Boris Johnson has brought forward the target to offer all eligible adults in England a booster Covid-19 vaccine from the end of January to the end of December, as he warned of a ‘tidal wave’ of Omicron cases.

The new variant could cause ‘very many deaths’, he warned, saying Britain ‘must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection’.

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He said scientists had discovered that being fully vaccinated with two doses is ‘simply not enough’ to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus mutation and without speeding up the booster campaign, the NHS could be overwhelmed.

The PM addressed the nation in a pre-recorded televised address tonight, without questions from media afterwards as there would be following a press conference.

Every adult over 18 in England who has had a second dose of a vaccine at least three months ago will be able to have their booster from tomorrow, he said.

The NHS booking system will be open for those under the age of 30 from Wednesday but ‘in some cases you can walk in from tomorrow’.

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He said that some NHS appointments would need to be postponed until the new year in the bid to speed up the boosters, arguing there would be ‘even greater’ cancellations if the Omicron wave was allowed to rise.

The mission to administer millions of jabs by December 31 will see 42 military planning teams deployed across every health region, extra vaccine sites and mobile units, extended clinic opening hours to allow people to be jabbed around the clock and at weekends, and the training of thousands more volunteer vaccinators.

The announcement comes as the UK Covid alert level was raised to Level 4, up from Level 3, following a rapid increase in the number of Omicron cases being recorded.

The recommendation was made to ministers by the country’s four chief medical officers and NHS England’s national medical director following advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).

Following the PM’s announcement tonight, Sir Keir Starmer said the Government had his party’s support to speed up the booster programme.

He urged the public to ‘protect our families, friends and the NHS’ by getting a top-up jab.

The Labour leader said: ‘The arrival of the worrying new variant is a reminder that the pandemic is not over. And vaccines are the best weapon in our fight.

Covid Alert Levels
The Covid Alert Level was raised to 4 today (Picture: UK Government)

‘Therefore the Government has our support in the effort to accelerate the booster programme. It’s also vital that we use the Christmas holidays to get the vaccine out to eligible children.

‘I urge everyone to get boosted as soon as you can – and if you haven’t had your first or second jab yet, now is the time to come forward.’

Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford also gave an update this evening, saying: said: ‘We are doing everything we can to accelerate our vaccination programme to increase the number of people who will receive their booster in the coming days and weeks. Older people and those at greatest risk are being prioritised at the moment.

‘We are increasing the number of clinics and their opening hours; we have asked all available staff to join vaccination teams to support this national effort.

‘Please make having your booster a priority. It will be one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself against coronavirus and this new variant.

‘The cabinet is closely monitoring this rapidly changing public health situation and has moved to a weekly review cycle.

‘We are facing a very serious situation and we may need to take further steps to keep Wales safe. I will continue to keep Wales updated.’

This is a breaking news story, more to follow soon… Check back shortly for further updates.

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