Total NHS COVID vaccines top 96 million, amid concern over new variant

Total vaccinations have hit the 96 million mark as the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme continues its drive to protect the most vulnerable ahead of Christmas.

After cases of the new COVID variant, Omicron, have been identified in England, the NHS’s top doctor today urged those in newly eligible groups to come forward as soon as they are eligible for the top up protection against the virus as well as reminding people that it’s never too late to get a first or second jab.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “With Christmas around the corner, getting jabbed is the best shot we have to keep the country going forwards in our collective COVID battle.

“Thanks to the efforts of NHS staff and volunteers more than 96 million doses of the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine have been given providing vital protection for 9 in 10 people but the emergence of the new variant, Omicron, shows that this pandemic is far from over.

“Whether it is for your first or second jab or booster vaccination, I would urge everyone to come forward and book your jab as soon as you can and give yourself and loved ones vital protection and peace of mind in the run up to the festive period. It is never too late to get your vaccine.

“Thanks to hard work of NHS staff and volunteers we have carried out almost two million vaccinations a week on average since the largest vaccination drive in NHS history began last December –with more sites delivering jabs across the country, including in schools, pharmacies, hospital hubs and walk-in sites as we deliver hundreds of thousands of first and second doses, boosters and third doses every day”.

People can get their vaccine by booking online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119, and GP practices are also inviting those who are eligible. Boosters can be booked a month before a person becomes eligible, which means they can get their top up jab as soon as they reach the six month mark.

There are more places delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including pharmacies, GP practices and other community sites, meaning the vast majority of people live within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination clinic.