Booking to open for accelerated booster jab rollout ‘no later than December 13’
The NHS has said people should be able to book their Covid booster jabs by December 13 in their ramped up rollout.
The booking service has yet to be updated after the JCVI advised that the time between a second dose and booster should be reduced from six months to three months to help protect against the new Omicron variant of Covid.
But 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”.
It is understood the rollout could begin earlier - as soon as the UK Health Security Agency updates its guidance.
And it confirmed there were “no supply challenges” with either Moderna or Pfizer booster stocks.
GP surgeries have been given permission to defer routine health checks for those aged 75 and over to free up capacity to deliver the vaccines, while the Army and “clinical students” could also be called on to help deliver the jabs.
And while it was recognised that the health service was already under pressure, the letter stressed there was a “new national mission” after ministers set the challenge for the NHS to offer boosters to all adults in just 62 days.
It comes as the first case in Wales of the Omicron variant was confirmed.
The case is in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area and is linked to international travel, the Welsh Government said.
While figures showed Covid-19 infections have increased in all four UK nations and remain close to record levels, though the latest rise is not linked to the arrival of the Omicron variant.
Around one in 60 people in private households in England had Covid-19 in the week to November 27, up from one in 65 the previous week, according to estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The proportion of people in England who were estimated to have coronavirus at the peak of the second wave in early January was one in 50.
This led to a surge in hospital admissions and deaths, along with a nationwide lockdown.
However, No 10 ruled out making vaccines compulsory as has been seen in Austria and is being considered in Germany.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister told reporters: “We’ve set out our policy on this and we’ve said it’s not something that we would look to introduce.
“You’re aware of the changes we made in terms of social care settings and for NHS workers, given the importance of protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
“But there’s no plans above and beyond that in that regard.”
He said: “Our priority is to continue to promote vaccinations and promote boosters now that we are rolling out more and more boosters to more and more people.
“That is our priority, that’s our focus, and that’s what we’re asking people to come forward and take.”
Meanwhile, partygoers were urged to “keep calm and carry on” with their Christmas festivities despite scientists raising the alarm about the risks associated with gathering for social events.
Campaigners welcome proposals to outlaw harassment of women
Boris Johnson ‘blocks plans to ban smoking outside pubs’
More people than ever doubt life will return to normal due to Covid-19 – survey