Boris Johnson announces new Covid vaccine roll-out as cases surge across UK again

Coronavirus booster vaccines to be offered to over 50s in Autumn

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Ministers have today signed off the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s (JCVI) advice to roll out new injections ahead of the winter. The decision was made as the latest Office for National Statistics data suggested 3.5 million people in Britain had Covid last week.

All those aged 50 and over, individuals aged five to 49 in clinical risk groups and frontline health and social care staff will all be eligible for a fresh jab.

The Prime Minister said: “Our vaccination programme has been one of the fastest and most successful in the world.

“Because of our collective efforts, from our NHS who got those jabs in arms, to everyone who came forward to keep themselves and those around them safe, we were able to open up our country while protecting lives and livelihoods.

“Today we have confirmed the next phase in our booster programme to keep our defences strong over autumn and winter.

“Vaccines were our way out of this pandemic, and now they will make sure Covid can never haunt us in the same way again.”

All eligible groups are being encouraged to take up the vaccine when it is offered even if they have had a spring booster, as long as it has been at least three months since their last vaccination.

There have been warnings from scientists that a new round of boosters was necessary in order to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisations and deaths over the winter.

Accepting the advice of the JCVI, Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “Viruses spread more easily in the colder seasons with people socialising inside, so the risk of getting Covid is higher.

“It is absolutely vital the most vulnerable groups receive a booster vaccine to strengthen their immunity against serious disease over winter to protect themselves and reduce pressure on the NHS.”

Mr Johnson oversaw Britain’s rollout of the initial vaccination programme last year that allowed the UK to become one of the first nations in the world to free itself from pandemic lockdowns.

The UK triumphed after it rapidly deployed jabs to all UK adults within just seven months and offered a second dose to everyone by the autumn. 

He declared the programme as one of his greatest achievements as Prime Minister earlier this week.

“I am also proud of the leadership I have given,” he told MPs.

“And I will be leaving soon with my head held high.”

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Two new sub-variants of the Omicron strain of the virus are currently spreading across the UK leading to the latest rise in cases.

Infections have jumped by nearly 800,000 in a week, with some parts of the country nearing the record levels seen during the spring.

Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase.

Ministers say the rollout of the new vaccinations will help to cut the spread of the variants and avoid the need for any further action to tackle the virus.

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