England’s top nurse calls for pre-Christmas boosters surge

The most senior nurse in the NHS has called for the whole country to rally in a vaccines push before Christmas to get the country boosted against COVID.

Last week saw the highest ever number of COVID-19 booster vaccines given in England as bookings opened to every eligible adult from Wednesday (15 December) – and a 76% increase on the week before.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, encouraged everyone to book their booster, warning the new variant meant “there’s no room for complacency”, and urging people to book a jab before the end of the year, including taking advantage of appointments available on Christmas Day.

A phenomenal 23 million booster and third jabs have now been given since September, with 2.3 million recorded in the past three days alone, each day marking a new high.

The record-breaking week comes as the NHS continues accelerating the booster programme in a drive to offer all adults a top-up jab by the end of December.

The senior medic is reminding people yet to get an appointment that “booking is best”, and to use the health service’s national booking service, with people already booked in for a Christmas Day jab, with some sites including high street pharmacies staying open for those who want their booster on December 25.

Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer For England, said: “This record-breaking week is a testament to the tireless efforts of our NHS staff and the public’s ongoing commitment to protect themselves and others, against the grave threat of Omicron.

“The massive momentum of last week needs to be the foundation for a final festive booster bounce, and with the Omicron variant causing so much uncertainty, there is no room for complacency, so book today.

“The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, continues pulling out all the stops to vaccinate as many as people as possible before Christmas.

“As the Omicron variant continues to spread rapidly, we need everyone to play their part in the national mission to protect the country and to book their vaccine through the national booking service.

“Getting boosted is our best hope of protecting people against the new variant so please book your slot online and guarantee your vital jab.

“Remember, to make getting your booster as quick and convenient as possible, booking is best”.

In just over a year since Maggie Keenan received the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in the world, the NHS has administered over 106 million jabs.

People who have yet to have one vaccination are also urged to come forward as it has never been more important that they book now.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We have the fastest booster roll out in Europe, and this record is once again testament to everyone rallying together to get boosted now.

“The public are rolling up their sleeves and our frontline heroes are getting jabs in arms across the country all day, every day – your unwavering effort is nothing short of extraordinary.

“This is a national mission and it is great to see people across the nation is truly stepping up to the challenge to get protected this winter”.

Thousands of volunteers and paid staff are also being recruited to support the delivery of the vaccine programme, and anyone interested in helping the NHS is being urged to search ‘COVID vaccine team’ to find out more.