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Covid booster jab offered to all adults in England, says government

The Guardian
The Guardian
 2021-12-31
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A Covid booster jab advertisement at Euston station in London Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Every adult in England has now been offered a Covid booster jab, the government has announced.

At the beginning of December, Boris Johnson warned in a televised speech that the UK was “facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, Omicron”.

The prime minister said all adults in England would be offered a booster jab by the end of the year, adding that he was launching a “national mission” to achieve that. The target date had previously been the end of January.

Johnson’s announcement came after evidence showed that having two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine does not provide strong protection against Omicron. However, a third dose provides about 70% protection against symptomatic infection.

On Friday, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said the booster drive meant that “tens of millions of people” got to see “loved ones this Christmas”. He added that he was “incredibly proud” of the work the NHS had done to accelerate the programme, and thanked “the frontline staff, volunteers, armed forces and British public who have made it possible for us to meet this commitment”.

More than 3,000 vaccination sites have been opened in England, with 180 new ones in December at football stadiums, shopping centres and Christmas markets. People have received letters and text messages inviting them to book booster vaccination appointments.

Official data shows that more than 8m booster doses were administered in England – a 45% increase – in the period between 12 December and 30 December. The highest daily number of Covid booster jabs in England – 830,403 – took place on 18 December.

More than 28.1 million people in England have now had their booster, including about 90% of those aged 50 and over who are eligible. This week, more than 1.5 million appointments were still available between 27 December and 3 January for anyone yet to get a top-up shot.

The vaccines minister, Maggie Throup, said: “We have now offered all eligible adults in England a Covid-19 booster – a triumph for the NHS and the vaccination programme.

“It’s never been easier to get your vaccine, with over 3,000 vaccination sites now open – so you can grab a jab in between shopping the January sales or watching your favourite football team play.”

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