Prime Minister announces ‘Omicron Emergency Boost’ programme

The vaccination programme

Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will be able to get a covid booster jab before the New Year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced tonight (December 12).

Addressing the nation the PM spoke of facing an emergency in the battle with the new variant, Omicron, and revealed 42 military planning teams will be drafted in across every region, standing up additional vaccine sites and mobile units.

Hours will also be extended so clinics are open 7 days a week, with more appointments early in the morning, in the evening, and at weekends. Thousands more volunteer vaccinators will also be trained for the booster roll-out – named as the Omicron Emergency Boost by the PM.

PM Boris Johnson

From tomorrow adults over 30 will be able to book online, and all over 18s from Wednesday.

The PM said: “It will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the New Year. But if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year.

“And I know the pressures on everyone in our NHS– from our GPs, doctors and nurses to our porters – all of whom have worked incredibly hard and we thank them for the amazing job they have done.

“But I say directly to those of you on the front line, I must ask you to make another extraordinary effort now, so we can protect you and your colleagues – and above all your patients – from even greater pressures next year.”

From tomorrow the booster will be available to every adult over 18 who has had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago.

The NHS Booking System will be open for these younger age groups from Wednesday,

The PM added: “Earlier today, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers raised the Covid Alert level to 4, its second highest level, because of the evidence that Omicron is doubling here in the UK every two to three days.

“We know from bitter experience how these exponential curves develop. No-one should be in any doubt: there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming, and I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need.

But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose– a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up.

“And I know there will be some people watching who will be asking whether Omicron is less severe than previous variants, and whether we really need to go out and get that booster.

“And the answer is yes we do. Do not make the mistake of thinking Omicron can’t hurt you; can’t make you and your loved ones seriously ill. 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.

“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, that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS and lead sadly to very many deaths.

“So we must act now.”

Thanet’s vaccination centre at Saga (Photo KCHT)

The GP hub at Saga is open for walk-ins and appointments every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday until December 22 from 9am-5pm.

Vaccines are Pfizer or Moderna – including boosters

If you need to have the AstraZeneca vaccine for for medical reasons, or you are still waiting for your second dose, please email kmccg.covidvaccine@nhs.net for information on your nearest clinic.

Work from home advice returns from tomorrow with covid passport vote this week