UK To Step Up Revaccination Efforts Over Omicron Threat, Administer Boosters By January
Faizan Hashmi Published December 01, 2021 | 02:00 AM
LONDON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 01st December, 2021) The United Kingdom will accelerate its booster program with the aim to revaccinate the population by the end of January due to the emergence of a new coronavirus strain, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday.
On Monday, UK health authorities announced they had accepted a recommendation from the vaccination committee to extend the COVID-19 booster vaccine to all people aged 18 and over, and shorten to three months the gap between the second dose and the third.
"The target we have set out ourselves is to offer a booster to everyone eligible by the end of January," Johnson said at a COVID-19 press conference, noting that almost 18 million boosters have already been administered across the UK.
However, under the new regulations, over 14 million adults have become eligible for a booster in England alone, the Prime Minister noted. The government will proceed with the revaccination program by age groups, starting from the elderly, he said.
In England, people will be able to get a booster dose in 1,500 community pharmacy sites, and the government will open extra hospital hubs on top of those already active to speed up the process, according to Johnson.
About 400 military personnel will assist with the revaccination campaign.
At the same time, the UK government will continue to refrain from introducing tough restrictive measures, considering vaccination the most efficient tool to fight the pandemic even given the emergence of the Omicron strain. Over the past 24 hours, the UK health authorities have reported eight new cases of the new variant, bringing the total number to 13.
The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was first identified in South Africa last week and the World Health Organization has classified it as a variant of concern, as its high number of mutations might make it more transmissible and dangerous than Delta.
On Monday, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and COVAX urged the international community to improve their donations of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa over the Omicron spread. The World Health Organization chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines the precursor to the emergence of new coronavirus variants.