Boris Johnson claims to have HIT his New Year booster jab target of offering a top up to every adult in the UK – as health chiefs warn 40 PER CENT of vaccine appointments are no-shows
Boris Johnson has hailed the success of the UK’s booster programme while claiming to have met his target of offering top-up doses to every adult in England.
The Prime Minister also urged everyone to make getting jabbed a New Year resolution to help keep the nation free from lockdown.
He spoke out as the number of people in hospital in England with Covid rose to 11,452 yesterday – up 61 per cent from a week earlier and the highest number since February 26.
There were 2,082 Covid hospital admissions in England on Tuesday, up 90 per cent week-on-week and the highest daily total since February 3, NHS England figures show.
But around one in three patients in hospital with Covid are primarily there for a reason unrelated to the virus, with this proportion expected to increase.
And the NHS Confederation said while it was ‘encouraging’ to see people coming forward for their jabs, it had heard reports that some vaccination clinics were only a third full as cases of the Omicron variant continued to rise rapidly.
Chief executive Matthew Taylor said some primary care leaders had told the organisation that people were not turning up to as many as 40 per cent of their booked appointments.
The Government set a target at the end of November to offer a booster jab to everyone eligible aged 18 and over by the end of January 2021.
But this goal was subsequently brought forward by a month in response to the emerging threat of the new Omicron variant sweeping across the country.
Mr Johnson said on December 12 that it was clear two doses of the vaccine were ‘simply not enough’ to give the level of protection needed and that, without a boosted population, the NHS could be overwhelmed. He therefore set a new deadline of offering every adult in England a booster by December 31.
More than 33.5million booster and third doses have now been delivered in the UK, with 1.8million in the past seven days. The Government said last week that it had hit a rolling average of nearly one million boosters a day – also close to the PM’s target.
Boris Johnson last night urged everyone to make getting jabbed a New Year resolution to help keep the nation free from lockdown
The UK registered a further 189,213 Covid infections yesterday – another record.
And there were 332 deaths, the highest figure since March 2, although this included a backlog of hospital deaths in England from December 24-29.
But in an upbeat New Year message, the Prime Minister insisted the situation is ‘better than last year’.
He said: ‘Whatever the challenges that fate continues to throw in our way and whatever the anxieties we may have about the weeks and months ahead, particularly about Omicron and the growing numbers in hospitals, we can say one thing with certainty – our position this December 31 is incomparably better than last year.’
Mr Johnson hailed the success of the UK’s booster programme, but he used his address to issue a stark warning to people who have not had all their jabs.
Nurse Salak Ali (right) administers a ‘Jingle Jab’ Covid vaccination booster injection to a pattient at the Good Health Pharmacy in North London on Christmas Day this year
In a video message that will be posted online this morning, Mr Johnson said: ‘I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated.
‘The people who think the disease can’t hurt them. Look at the people going into hospital now – that could be you.
‘Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster – that could be you.
‘So, make it your New Year’s resolution. Get that jab and do something that will make 2022 a happy New Year for us all.’
Mr Johnson also said he has fulfilled his pledge to offer every adult in England the chance to book a booster by the end of the year – over eight million have been given since the target was announced on December 12, taking the total in England to 28.1million.
But it is estimated there are still around nine million people entitled to have the booster who are yet to do so.
And Professor Martin Marshall, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, yesterday warned the rollout almost ground to a halt over Christmas.
‘The vaccination programme is going OK but it’s been pretty slow over the Christmas period, particularly in the GP centres,’ he told Times Radio. ‘I suspect that will pick up again come January but it’s been a little bit frustrating for the staff.’
Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer used his own New Year message to promise to set out a plan to ‘build a new Britain’.
The Labour leader, who will begin 2022 with his party ahead in recent opinion polls, said: ‘I believe the best still lies ahead for Britain. That, if we make the right choices, together we can seize the future and make it work for every family in every part of Britain.
‘That must be the true legacy of all the sacrifices and pain of the past two years of the pandemic.’
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey used his message to say he hoped 2022 will be ‘the year we will finally beat Covid’.