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Boris Johnson Says All Over-18s Will Be Offered Covid Booster Within Two Months

4 min read

The Prime Minister said temporary vaccination centers would be "popping up like Christmas trees" in a bid to tackle the new Omicron Covid variant.

"We have already done almost 18 million boosters across the UK, but we've got millions more to do to protect the most vulnerable," Johnson said at a Downing Street press conference on Tuesday.

He confirmed that anybody eligible would receive an offer of a booster within two months, and that people would be invited to book by age group. 

"We will move down the cohorts rapidly, and working together with the devolved administrations we want to ramp up capacity across the whole of UK to the levels we achieved in the previous vaccination effort," Johnson continued. 

"We are going to be throwing everything at it in order to ensure that everyone eligible is offered that booster in just over two months.

He said new temporary vaccination centres would be "popping up like Christmas trees" with the support of 400 military personnel and volunteers to assist the NHS in the rapid rollout. 

Johnson, 57, has not yet received a booster but confirmed he would be getting his on Thursday. 

"Whenever your turn comes, get your booster and ask your friends and your family to do the same," he urged. 

"It is time for another great British vaccination effort. We have done it before, and we are going to do it again, and let's not give this virus a second chance."

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that all adults over-18 be allowed to get their Covid-19 booster dose just three months after their second dose.

The originally proposed gap was six months, but the programme has been accelerated in response to the discovery of the new omicron variant. 

Ministers said people would be called for the jab "at the appropriate time" with doses offered by age group, moving down in five-year gaps.

Speaking alongside Johnson at Tuesday's press conference, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said staff were "now working at breakneck speed to respond to this, the biggest change in eligibility since the programme was launched". 

"In line with JCVI advice, we will be vaccinating the most vulnerable first, and then opening up further, just as we did in those opening waves of the programme," she said.

"We will let you know when it is your turn to take up the offer. It is our intention to ensure that everyone eligible for a booster is given the change to book one before the end of January."

Earlier on Tuesday health minister Gillian Keegan said the government was aiming to provide around 3.5m booster jabs each week as part of the efforts to stave off a new wave of infection from the new variant during winter.

Health officials have indentified 14 cases of the new variant across the UK. As a result of concern over the transmissibility of Omicron, Boris Johnson has introduced new coronavirus restrictions in England, including a return to mandatory wearing of face coverings in shops and on public transport.

All travellers arriving in the UK from abroad will also now be required to take a PCR Covid test within two days of arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative result, regardless of vaccination status.

NHS track and trace will also be asking those identified as a 'close contact' of any person infected with the Omicron variant to self-isolate for ten days regardless of their vaccine status.

Earlier, Johnson dismissed suggestions from Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK's Health Security Agency, that people should limit the number of people they are socialising with in the run up to Christmas.

He told reporters the government were "not changing the guidance on how you should basically be living your life… Providing people continue to be cautious and sensible, we think that’s the right approach”.

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