More than 200,000 Covid vaccines were dished out on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, NHS chiefs revealed today.
Officials praised staff and volunteers for giving up time with their families over the festive period to protect others.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘I want to say a big thank you to all the NHS staff and volunteers who worked over the weekend to get jabs in arms. If you’re yet to get your booster, do not delay – get boosted now.’
Eight mass centres, tasked with completing the backbone of Britain’s roll-out, were open on December 25 as well as some walk-in sites. But most of the 3,000-plus sites dishing out jabs in England didn’t open until today.
Some 32.4million booster doses have been given out across the UK so far, equating to 56.5 per cent of over-12s.
An NHS health worker administers a Covid jab at a pop-up coronavirus vaccination centre at the Redbridge Town Hall – the busiest site in the country on Christmas Day, where more than 900 people were immunised – in east London on December 25
An NHS health worker administers a Covid jab to a pregnant woman at a pop-up coronavirus vaccination centre at the Redbridge Town Hall, east London on Christmas Day
People waiting for a Covid jab at Redbridge Town Hall on Christmas Day
England’s Covid hospitalisations hit highest level since FEBRUARY
Covid hospital admissions in England hit the highest level since February on Christmas Day, according to official figures laying bare the threat the NHS faces from Omicron in the New Year.
NHS England data released today show 1,281 coronavirus-infected patients were placed on wards on December 25, up 74 per cent in a week.
But the same grisly data, which reflects how the ultra-infectious variant has triggered spiralling infection rates all across the country, also shows daily hospitalisation figures in Omicron-hotspot London are still below the crucial figure thought to be No10’s trigger point for imposing fresh England-wide restrictions.
It comes as Boris Johnson today boosted hopes for New Year’s Eve celebrations as he avoided unveiling any fresh restrictions ahead of the last social hurrah of 2021, despite holding crunch talks with his chief scientific advisers Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Patrick Vallance.
The Prime Minister is understood to be leaning towards new guidance urging people in England to be careful and limit socialising, rather than imposing legally binding curbs like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland woke up to today.
But his afternoon meeting – which gave him a glimpse of the true scale of Omicron’s festive spread after two days of no publicly available data – brought no imminent announcement to move England into line with the other home nations.
Around 12,000 people got vaccinated on Christmas Day, including more than 10,000 boosters, while 20,000 of the 24,000 jabs administered on Boxing Day were top-up doses.
Boris Johnson publicly promised to give all eligible over-18s the chance of having their booster jab by New Year’s Day.
It meant the Government would have had to dish out 1million vaccines a day, starting from when he made his pledge, to hit that goal.
But the inoculation drive hasn’t kept up with that pace, meaning the NHS scheme needs to be scaled up even further for No10 to hit the target.
NHS bosses insist the pledge was only to offer a booster to all adults by the end of the year, rather than administering all the boosters by that deadline.
Redbridge Town Hall was the busiest site in the country on Christmas Day, where more than 900 people were immunised. It also went on to deliver around 800 jabs on Boxing Day.
Dr Seedat, a GP and vaccination lead at the site who did not give their full name, said: ‘I am delighted that at Redbridge Town Hall we saw the highest number of people in the country come forward for their jab over Christmas and Boxing Day, protecting themselves and their loved ones against Covid, and credit goes to the whole team, especially those working behind the scenes, who gave up their time to make London safer.
‘I urge any Londoner who is eligible but yet to come forward for their first, second or booster jab to join those getting vaccinated – book or walk-in to any of the many vaccinations sites across the city today.’
Vision Pharmacy in Leicester and Rusholme Pharmacy in Manchester were the next most busy sites on December 25, administering 417 and 244 jabs, respectively.
And a family of six in Sussex, headed by chief nursing officer Allison, who did not give her last name, volunteered on Christmas Day and helped give out more than 200 Covid injections.
Allison said: ‘It was fantastic vaccinating people on Christmas Day and over the most wonderful time of the year – the atmosphere on the day was lovely with people really grateful to get the top-up in protection and thankful to NHS staff for giving up their time over Christmas.
‘We’re really proud as a family to be taking part in the historic vaccination campaign and helping save lives from coronavirus – there are still more jabs to get into arms though and we will be playing our part by continuing to volunteer as a family, and it is really important the public play their part by coming forward for the vaccine if they haven’t already.’
More than seven in 10 eligible adults in England have had a booster jab, including half of over-30s who were invited to get third dose two weeks ago.
Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, said: ‘I want to say a huge thank you to all the staff and volunteers who gave up time with their families over Christmas to protect others – as these figures show it was time well spent.
‘But if you were too busy shopping, cooking, wrapping or visiting family and friends over Christmas to get a jab please book now.
‘There are 1.3million appointments still available between now and next week so go online and arrange one.
‘You won’t need to queue and it is the best way to protect yourself, your family and your friends from Covid.
‘We know that two jabs do not provide the protection you need from Omicron so if you are eligible book a booster without delay.’
Mr Javid said: ‘It’s thanks to our life-saving vaccines, treatments and testing that we’ve been able to see loved ones over the Christmas weekend.
‘The enthusiasm the country has shown for our COVID-19 vaccines has been tremendous, particularly the 214,000 who have gone out of their way this holiday weekend to get their jab and secure protection from the Omicron variant.