Get your 'jingle jab': Booster rollout to carry on over the weekend

Get your ‘jingle jab’ on Christmas day: Booster rollout to carry on over the weekend as vaccine centres remain open with 200,000 appointments available for third dose

  • Rollout will carry on during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
  • Health service said its ‘jingle jab’ campaign will see doses available this weekend
  • NHS England advised booking in advance with options for walk-ins available
  • Experts warn only boosters provide maximum level of protection against virus

People will be able to get a Covid booster vaccine on Christmas Day, NHS England has announced as part of increased efforts to top-up protection against the Omicron variant.

The rollout will carry on during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with around 200,000 appointments for a third dose still available across the country over the festive period.

The health service said its ‘jingle jab’ campaign will see NHS staff and volunteers administer doses at scores of local vaccination sites including town halls and local pharmacies.

NHS England advised booking in advance but said there will be options available for people without appointments across the country, including in Eastbourne, Hartlepool, Croydon and Dewsbury.

A fourth jab is set to be rolled out early to millions of Britons after a new study showed protection against Omicron wanes within three months of a booster. Pictured: Shona McCauley receives a booster vaccine from Alex Iheanacho at Elland Road in Leeds

While booster numbers have risen in the past week No10’s goal of delivering a-million boosters-a-day has remained frustratingly out of reach

Experts have warned that while a first or second dose can help, only boosters provide the maximum level of protection against Omicron.

Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, said: ‘We’ve seen record after record broken in the run-up to the festive season and I want to thank every NHS staff member and volunteer whose goodwill and determination to protect their communities will keep the booster rollout going this Christmas weekend.

‘This Christmas, before sitting down to your dinner with your family, I would encourage anyone not already boosted to come forward, book an appointment and get the gift of a jab.’

The push over the festive period comes after a bumper weekend of 1.5 million doses and a record-breaking week for booster jabs. On Wednesday, 1.06 million vaccines were administered, the highest number ever – 968,665 of which were top-up doses.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid paid tribute to NHS staff and volunteers giving up their time with family and friends to help the booster rollout over Christmas.

A growing proportion of Covid patients in London’s hospitals are actually being treated for a different ailment. Currently 25 per cent of ‘Covid patients’ originally went to hospital for a different reason, only later testing positive for the virus compared to 17 per cent a fortnight ago

Omicron is believed to be infecting more people who have previously had Covid, with 9.5 per cent of people with the variant having had it before. Graph shows: The rate of reinfection (blue line) versus first infection (red line) over time

Data suggests protection against symptoms starts to wane by between 15 and 25 per cent, 10 weeks after booster vaccination. Graph shows: Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic Covid with Delta (black square) and Omicron (grey circle) after two AztraZeneca doses and either a Pfizer (middle) or Moderna (right) booster dose over time

According to analysis by the UKHSA of 132 hospital patients who were infected with Omicron as of December 20, the risk of hospital admission for an identified case with the variant is reduced compared with a case of DeltaGraph shows: The number of Omicron cases admitted to hospital after attending A&E

A UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) report became the fourth study to show the new strain causes less severe illness, suggesting the variant is between 50 and 70 per cent less likely to cause hospital admission and up to 45 per cent less likely to result in a person going to A&E

He said: ‘Thank-you for everything that you’ve done and everything that you’re doing – this Christmas and all year round.

‘You continue to be the very best of us – you achieve phenomenal things and I’m proud to call you colleagues.’

NHS England chief Amanda Pritchard praised the ‘extraordinary team effort’ of health service staff in the face of Omicron.

‘I know it is a worrying time professionally and personally for everyone, and that many colleagues are drained after such a gruelling period,’ she said.

‘The NHS is nothing without its incredible staff. This time, thanks to NHS staff and volunteers, we are armed with the protection offered by first, second and booster doses.’

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