Omicron fightback: PM hails 'Britain's jab heroes' and issues plea for volunteers

15 December 2021, 17:42 | Updated: 15 December 2021, 20:48

Boris Johnson has hailed Britain's 'jab heroes'
Boris Johnson has hailed Britain's 'jab heroes'. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson has hailed the UK's "jabs heroes" as he pleaded for more volunteers to sign up and get the nation protected against the Omicron variant.

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The Prime Minister name checked three people from across the vaccine campaign, including a group who have been regularly giving out doses at 2am.

A Downing Street press conference urged Brits to "Get Boosted Now", with the Government asking adults to come forward in the "Omicron Emergency Boost" and book their follow up jab before the end of the year.

Tuesday marked another record day for boosters with 650,000 extra doses injected in people's arms.

NHS England's medical director of primary care, Dr Nikki Kanani, said "we need your help" while Mr Johnson said volunteers had the chance to "do something this Christmas that you can tell your grandchildren about many Christmases from now".

Tens of thousands have answered the call in the last couple of days.

A third vaccine dose is thought to provide increased protection against the strain, and Mr Johnson described the hundreds of thousands of booster shots given out each day as a "great national fightback", with Brits responding to his plea to get jabbed again with "an amazing spirit of duty and obligation to others".

Read more: Chris Whitty warns Covid records will continue to be broken as Omicron rages across UK

Read more: Omicron 'most significant threat since start of pandemic,' warns Dr Jenny Harries

Mr Johnson said: "Yesterday [was] the biggest booster day yet with more than 650,000 boosters delivered across the whole UK and across the country.

"After all they've been through, those teams are going to keep going through Christmas and beyond.

"Jab heroes like Kim Kirk, leading the Kings Mill hospital vaccination hub in Mansfield, who was asked a year ago to do it for four weeks and has been doing it ever since, with 180,000 jabs and counting.

"Dr Laura Mount and the team at Central and West Warrington Primary Care Network who have been organising pop up vaccination clinics for the homeless.

"Or the team at home park in Plymouth, who've been regularly jabbing until 2am because they just carry on for as long as there are people there that are wanting a booster.

"And I want to thank those from every walk of life who are stepping forward to support them."

Mr Johnson's "signs of hope" followed a bleak day in the pandemic. A record 78,000 cases, the highest daily amount of confirmed coronavirus infections recorded in the UK since the pandemic began, was announced shortly before.

The Prime Minister also said that Omicron's doubling rate in some regions was "down to less than two days", and hospitalisations had risen by 10% across the UK.

In London, they are up by a third, although, across the UK, admissions of the more vulnerable older age groups are down.

And Professor Chris Whitty, England's chief medical officer, slapped down suggestions that Omicron is less of a threat than other variants, as he warned: "I'm afraid we have to be realistic that records will be broken a lot over the next few weeks as the rates continue to go up."

Mr Johnson used the jabs heroes as a sign that the fightback is well under way, and he said more than 20,000 new volunteers had signed up to help the booster campaign as stewards. It means 33,000 people are on hand to help the rollout.

Brits have responded to the booster campaign keenly, with huge queues seen across the nation's vaccine sites.

Visit nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk to volunteer.