Covid: All over 18s in England eligible for booster jab to be offered it by end of January

When will people be offered their booster jab - and what about the Christmas plans we've made? ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports

Everyone in England eligible for a coronavirus booster jab will be offered one by the end of January, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced, saying the UK will "throw everything" at the vaccination effort.

The booster jab programme was extended on Monday in another bid to tackle the Omicron variant, with over-18s now eligible for a third jab, three months after the second.

By halving the delay between second dose and third dose from six months to three months, the number of people eligible has now doubled.

The NHS is administering around 350,000 booster jabs a day, according to official figures, but that figure will need to increase dramatically if the government wants to use third doses to drive up immunity in eligible people.

It has been estimated that another 30 million people will need to have been offered a vaccine within the next two months for the target to be met.

Some 22 cases of Omicron have been identified in the UK so far, and that number is expected to rocket in the coming days.

Mr Johnson said extra vaccination centres will be "popping up like Christmas trees", adding: "It is time for another great vaccination effort."

And Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government planned to put the booster programme "on steroids", with at least 400 military personnel set to assist in its rollout.

He added that people should get vaccinated to "give ourselves the best chance of a Christmas with our loved ones".

ITV News Political Editor Robert Peston outlines the mixed messaging around Christmas plans

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said staff are working at "breakneck speed" to expand the booster jab rollout, but she urged people wait for an appointment to be offered, rather than trying to book one.

She said GPs and pharmacies would be offered £15 per shot until the end of January, with an additional £5 for those administered on a Sunday and a £30 premium for those delivered to the housebound until the end of next month.

The prime minister said capacity will need to see "another great surge" to achieve the 30 million target.

"Is it going to be hard work? Yes, it is. But I know that people can do it", he told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

Asked if people should stop planning Christmas parties and school nativity plays, Mr Johnson said no, "we don't want people to cancel such events".

If the government does manage to offer a booster jab to all eligible by the end of January, the NHS will inevitably suffer, says ITV News' Health Editor Emily Morgan

Mr Johnson insisted it was "unlikely" that a new lockdown would be introduced due to the variant, but said the government was keeping "everything" under review.

School pupils aged between 12 and 15 have also been told they are allowed their second dose of a vaccine, no sooner than 12 weeks after the first.

Earlier Britons were told another way they could help reduce the spread of Omicron would be to reduce their number of social interactions in the run up to Christmas.

Watch Boris Johnson's booster jab press conference in full:

Asked if there were additional measures people could take, the head of the UK’s Health Security Agency Dr Jenny Harries said earlier today: "I think being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jabs."

Mr Johnson said he did not agree with Dr Harries advice when asked at the press conference.

"The answer is no. The guidance remains the same, and we're trying to take a balanced and proportionate approach.

He said people should follow the measures which are currently in place, saying they strike "the right balance".

The government introduced swift new restrictions as it reacted to the emergence of the new variant, bringing in laws forcing people to wear masks in shops and on public transport, while new measures at the border mean any arrivals into the UK will be subject to more Covid-19 testing.

Anyone found not wearing a mask can once again face a £200 fine for a first time offence, with the amount going up the more people are found to break the rules.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he welcomed the new measures, after ordering his MPs to back the government by voting in the Commons for its proposals, but said he wanted the PM to go further.

The government won the vote with a majority of 411, with 19 Tory backbenchers rejecting the measures.

Sir Keir called on Mr Johnson to enforce pre-departure tests for anyone wanting to arrive in the UK, rather than taking a test two days after arriving.

Mr Johnson told the Downing Street press conference he is taking "proportionate precautionary measures while our scientists crack the Omicron code".

The prime minister earlier said scientists at Porton Down are assessing the transmissibility of the new variant and how much vaccines can protect against it.

But, he said: "We don't see any need at present, certainly, to change the overall guidance about how people should be living their lives".

He added: "People should continue to do things like make sure they have lots of fresh air, they wash their hands and take normal precautions, I think that's entirely reasonable.

"But we're not going to change the overall guidance. We don't think that's necessary."

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