'A national mission': Get booster before seeing loved ones at Christmas, urges Health Sec

5 December 2021, 00:01 | Updated: 7 June 2023, 08:56

Sajid Javid is urging eligible people to get their booster jab
Sajid Javid is urging eligible people to get their booster jab. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has called on the public to get the booster jab before spending time with their loved ones this Christmas.

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In a statement, Mr Javid said it was "absolutely crucial" that the public "top-up" their immunity before the holidays, calling the booster rollout a "national mission".

"Christmas is around the corner and it's absolutely crucial that everybody who is eligible gets their booster jab to top-up their immunity before spending time with loved ones," he said.

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"While our brilliant scientists learn more about the new Omicron variant, we need to do everything we can to strengthen our defences and vaccines are the best way to do that.

"This is a national mission and we all have a role to play - so roll up your sleeves and get protected as soon as you can."

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A total of 19.8 million people had received their third jab by December 4, while more than 51 million have had their first dose and almost 46.5 million their second.

The Department of Health and Social Care estimates that 20 million will have had the booster by December 5.

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It comes after NHS England said that its ramped up booster jab programme would be in place by December 13 amid reports that people are struggling to get a booking.

In response to the emergence of the Omicron variant, the Government announced it was extending the offer of a booster to all adults, with the time between the second and third jabs to be cut from six months to three.

However, the booking service for the jabs has yet to be updated.

In a letter from the health service released on Friday, it was revealed this would be updated to reflect the reduction of the time between doses to three months "as soon as possible and no later than December 13".

It said the jabs would be delivered "in descending age groups, with priority given to the vaccination of older adults and those in a Covid-19 at-risk group first".

Government reintroduces pre-departure Covid tests for entry to the UK

As well as expanding the booster programme, the Government has also tightened travel rules in response to the new strain.

All international arrivals to the UK will need to take a pre-departure test from 4am on Tuesday, regardless of their vaccination status.

Nigeria is also being added to the red list - meaning arrivals from there must quarantine in an approved hotel for 10 days - from 4am on Monday.