Boris Johnson has pledged to offer Covid-19 boosters to all over 18-year-olds by the new year in a national effort to defend Britain against an incoming “tidal wave of Omicron”.
In a statement broadcast to the nation on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister warned that “we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe”.
A new “national mission”, labelled Omicron Emergency Boost, has been launched to curb the spread of the highly transmissible variant and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed.
From tomorrow every adult in England aged 18 and over who received a second vaccine at least three months ago can attend a walk-in vaccination centre.
From Wednesday the NHS website will open up to those aged 18 and above for bookings.
The government has deployed 42 military planning teams across every region to assist with the booster campaign.
Clinics will be open seven days a week and hours will extend to increase appointment times in the morning, evening and at weekends.
Thousands of people will also be trained to assist in the vaccine effort.
Government analysis has shown that in order to hit the pace of boosters needed to fully vaccinate the population by the new year, the NHS will need to match its best vaccination day yet and then beat it day after day.
“Do not make the mistake of thinking Omicron can’t hurt you and can’t make you and your loved ones seriously ill,” Johnson said during his national address.
“We’ve already seen hospitalisations doubling in a week in South Africa and we have patients with Omicron in hospital here in the UK right now,” 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.”
News of operation Omicron Emergency Boost comes as the government earlier today raised the UK’s Covid alert barometer to level four.
From Monday “Plan B” Covid measures will come into force, meaning people will be encouraged to work from home wear possible and facemasks will be compulsory on public transport and in public indoor spaces.
On Wednesday, subject to a vote in parliament, a negative lateral flow test or vaccine certification will be required at large events and nightclubs.
The Prime Minister has confirmed that Omicron Emergency Boost “will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the New Year”.
However, Johnson warned that “if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions… would be even greater next year”.
“We are a great country, we have the vaccines to protect our people,” Johnson said.
“Get boosted now for yourself, for your friends and your family.
“Get boosted now to protect jobs and livelihoods across this country.
“Get boosted now to protect our NHS, our freedoms and our way of life.”
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