The army and extra NHS staff will be deployed across regions in the UK to help achieve Boris Johnson’s target to vaccinate more than a million people every day with booster jabs this Christmas and prevent a New Year lockdown.
In his address to the nation last night the Prime Minister announced he was rapidly speeding up the UK’s coronavirus booster jab rollout as he warned the country: ‘There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.’
Launching what he described as the ‘Omicron Emergency Boost’, Mr Johnson said everyone over the age of 18 would now be offered their booster before the New Year and that in order to deliver the necessary jabs by the end of the year ‘we’ll need to match the NHS’s best vaccination day yet – and then beat it day after day’.
The move will now see extra nurses and healthcare staff taken off normal duties and cancel routine treatment to help the emergency operation.
The drive will also see 42 military planning teams across every region, additional vaccine sites and mobile units, an extension of opening hours for clinics so they run seven days a week and thousands of extra volunteer vaccinators trained.
The PM was speaking as fears increased of the need for a Plan D in January, with the potential for a new lockdown if Omicron cases surge out of control after the UK’s Covid alert level was raised from Level 3 to Level 4.
Yesterday the UK reported another 1,239 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant – an increase of 65 per cent over the past 24 hours.
The case numbers – which take the total number of Omicron cases in the UK to 3,137 – are the highest daily rise and more than double the previous record, which was set on Saturday when 633 new cases of the variant were reported.
In his speech the PM urged people to ‘get boosted now’ and said the UK is ‘now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant’ and ‘we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe’.
The PM said the data was now clear that two doses of the vaccine are ‘simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need’ but the ‘good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose – a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up’.
He said this will require ‘an extraordinary effort’ as he revealed some medical appointments will have to be postponed until 2022 so that clinicians can commit to administering jabs.
Mr Johnson said ‘every adult over 18 who has had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago’ will be eligible for a jab from tomorrow.
Approximately 20million people are likely to be eligible for the booster under the criteria which means the rollout will need to administer around one million jabs a day to hit the PM’s end of year target.
Figures show that a total of 23,124,829 – 40.2 per cent of people aged 12 and over in the UK – have now received a booster jab but the rollout will now need to rapidly increase in order to meet the target.
The formal NHS Booking System will be open to the younger age groups from Wednesday but Mr Johnson said ‘in some places you can walk in from tomorrow’.
In his address the Prime Minister said: ‘Over the past year we have shown that vaccination is the key to beating Covid and that it works
‘The UK was the first country in the world to administer a vaccine, we delivered the fastest rollout in Europe and we 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 this country.
‘But I need to speak to you this evening because I’m afraid we’re now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron and we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe. ‘
Mr Johnson went on to say that that UK’s four chief medical officers had now raised the Covid alert level to four – it’s second highest level- because of the evidence that Omicron is doubling in the UK every two to three days.
He continued: ‘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 and I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need.
‘But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose – a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up.
‘I know there will be some people watching who will be asking whether Omicron is less severe than previous variants and whether we really need to go out and get that booster and the answer is yes we do.
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Source: Daily Mail