The Omicron variant of coronavirus has sparked a flurry of measures by the UK Government. The most notable is the expansion of the booster programme to all adults aged 18 and over. Much is still to be learned about the new variant, but early indications are a cause for concern. Doctor Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of South African Medical Association, was one of the first people to alert the world to the perceptible impact of the new strain.
“It’s possible of course, it’s possible that it might be less effective. We just don’t know for sure yet. But it’s also very likely that it will remain effective against serious disease.”
The Health Secretary also acknowledged the enormous task ahead.
Getting everyone eligible a Covid booster jab the end of January will be a “huge ask”, he told Sky News.
Following the announcement on Tuesday that the vaccination programme is to be expanded, Mr Javid said he was confident the NHS would be able to cope.
Expanded booster programme
Almost seven million extra over 40s now eligible for booster programme in England as gap between doses is halved.
All eligible adults in England aged 18 and over will be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine by the end of January.
Following advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), everyone who is currently eligible – including those aged 40 and over, health and social care workers and those at increased risk from the virus due to health conditions – will be able to book their jab from three months after their second dose, meaning an additional seven million people over 40 are now eligible.
The government and the NHS are urging younger people to wait until they are called forward by the NHS – with the more vulnerable continuing to be prioritised for their booster, to top up their immunity to the virus as soon as possible.
Younger age groups will be invited by the NHS in due course in order of age, grouped into five-year age bands.
According to the Government’s website, to speed up the vaccination programme, around 400 military personnel will be drafted in to support deployment, with 1,500 community pharmacy sites, additional hospital hubs, and pop-up sites opening in convenient locations across the country.
More than 3,000 sites are already open in England – more than double the number in February.
More than 18.2 million life-saving top-up jabs have now been given across the UK, with 318,671 recorded yesterday.
Published at Wed, 01 Dec 2021 16:03:00 +0000