Thousands of people have received COVID vaccinations at centres across England today as the NHS effort to get people boosted continues in the wake of surging case rates.
Queues have been forming outside some pharmacies as people take up the offer of a Christmas Day jab.
NHS staff and volunteers are giving up their time this Christmas to deliver vaccinations, with both pre-booked and walk-in appointments available in some sites in England.
It will help ensure that the number of people to have received a booster jab continues to rise over the holiday period, with more than 32 million boosters given so far as of 23 December.
Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS COVID vaccination programme, said: “I want to thank every NHS staff member and volunteer who is helping to deliver COVID vaccinations today, in an effort to keep the booster rollout going over the festive season and get as many people protected as possible.”
Sky News visited a vaccination site in Redbridge, east London, on Christmas morning, where a thousand people are expected to get their jab today.
Dr Najib Seedat, the clinical lead for the Redbridge Town Hall vaccination centre, told Sky News he wanted people to visit the site.
“If you haven’t had your first, second, or booster jab, come in and see us,” he said.
He stressed that even those unsure about getting vaccinated could go for a chat to get more information.
“If you’re unsure, come and see us still. We’ve got a team of professionals who can answer questions, and after that you can decide,” he added.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid thanked all those working to deliver the jabs and urged people “make the booster a part of your Christmas this year”.
Appointments are not available in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland on Christmas Day, however.
Russell George, the Conservative’s shadow health minister for Wales, said not offering jabs there on Boxing Day either would be met with “much bemusement by families and businesses” as “we are in a race against Omicron”.
COVID-19 cases hit record levels on Friday as 122,186 positive tests were reported.
While research has emerged to suggest that the Omicron variant may be slightly milder than Delta, the increased transmissibility of the new strain still risks causing severe problems for the health service.
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