British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling for thousands of volunteers to staff new vaccination centers in shopping areas, stadiums and racecourses as the government accelerates its booster program to combat the omicron variant of COVID-19
LONDON — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling for thousands of volunteers to staff new vaccination centers in shopping areas, stadiums and racecourses as the government accelerates its booster program to combat the omicron variant of COVID-19.
“We need tens of thousands of people to help out – everyone from trained vaccinators to stewards,” Johnson said. “Many thousands have already given their time – but we need you to come forward again, to work alongside our brilliant GPs, doctors, nurses and pharmacists, to deliver jabs and save lives.”
Long lines formed Monday at vaccination centers across England as the National Health Service raced to meet the government’s target of delivering up to 1 million shots a day, more than double the recent daily average. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said Tuesday that logistical issues in expanding the vaccination program would diminish over the course of the week.
“It does take a few days just to make sure we get to a steady state,” Raab told the BBC, adding: “We’ll keep straining every sinew to make sure we can reach that target.”
In an address to the nation on Sunday, Johnson said that everyone 18 and up would be offered a third vaccine dose by Dec. 31 — a month earlier than the previous target. Johnson said boosters would “reinforce our wall of vaccine protection” against an anticipated “tidal wave of omicron.”
Scientists in South Africa, where the omicron outbreak is more advanced, say the variant may cause less severe disease than the delta variant but caution that it’s too soon to be certain. Health authorities around the world are watching Britain closely to see what an omicron surge looks like in a country with an older, more highly vaccinated population than South Africa’s.