BOOSTER jabs will be offered to everyone over 18 in England from this week, the PM has announced, as he declared an “Omicron emergency” reports the BBC.
“No one should be in any doubt, there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming,” Boris Johnson said in a TV statement on Sunday evening.
The target to vaccinate all adults by the end of January will be brought forward by a month, he said.
Some medical appointments may also be postponed to focus on boosters.
Mr Johnson gave his update on Sunday evening – just hours after the UK’s Covid alert level was raised to four due to the spread of the new Omicron virus variant.
Level four means a high or rising level of transmission – and the last time the UK was at level four was in May.
“I’m afraid we’re now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant Omicron,” said Mr Johnson.
“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.”
He added: “At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe.
“And even if that proved to be true, we already know it is so much more transmissible that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS and lead sadly to very many deaths.”
The new booster target means people aged 18 and over in England will be able to get their third jabs from this week – as long as it has been three months since their second dose. Scotland is also doing the same and bringing its target forward to the end of the year.
But Mr Johnson said in order to reach the new jab target, certain other medical appointments will need to be postponed to the New Year. Some GPs are already allowed to postpone routine health checks to make space for vaccinations.
The prime minister also said:
- 42 military planning teams will be deployed across every region to help the effort
- extra vaccine sites and mobile units will be set up across England
- opening hours of clinics will be extended with more appointments
- thousands more volunteer vaccinators will be trained
- the UK will also give extra support to speed up vaccinations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Early data shows that getting a third booster dose prevents around 75% of people getting any Covid symptoms from Omicron.
More than half a million booster jabs and third doses were given in the UK on Saturday – the second day that has happened since the booster rollout began.