NHS England has said there are 200,000 vaccination appointments available on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day and urged anybody due a booster to consider coming forward “to get the gift of a jab”.
Staff and volunteers will continue to deliver jabs in some locations on 25 and 26 December, as the NHS tries to meet Boris Johnson’s target of giving everybody eligible a booster by the end of the year amid a surge in the number of Covid cases.
Vaccination centres that were open “over the festive period” included Redbridge town hall in north-east London from 10am to 5.50pm and Grim’s Dyke golf club in Pinner, Middlesex, the NHS said. Walk-in appointments can be obtained in Eastbourne, Dewsbury and Hartlepool.
Dr Emily Lawson, the head of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, praised those willing to work over the Christmas weekend and argued that people should consider getting a booster as a last-minute present to family members.
“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 NHS official said.
The latest figures show that 840,000 people across the UK received a booster on Wednesday, the seventh consecutive day that jabs exceeded 800,000, taking the number who had received a third jab to nearly 31.7 million.
Daily vaccination rates have leapt by about three-quarters in a little over a week as the NHS has rapidly organised to try to meet Johnson’s pledge, opening more sites, increasing hours and calling for volunteers to help.
But health service chiefs had no warning that the booster jab target was being brought forward to help tackle the sudden upsurge in Covid cases, and reaching the goal has become increasingly demanding.
About 13.2 million are people yet to be boosted, with nine days to go before the end of the year. Allowing for a day off to account for reduced vaccination rates over the holiday period, that would mean 1.65m jabs a day would need to be given to hit the target.
Sajid Javid thanked NHS workers for their commitment to helping dramatically increase vaccination rates. The health secretary said: “You have shown our country at its best and achieved phenomenal things this year including delivering our turbocharged booster rollout.”
Everybody over 18 is eligible for a booster if their second jab took place more than three months ago and they have not caught Covid in the past 28 days.