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Covid ‘booster programme on steroids’ may take 10 more days to kick off, says NHS chief

Omicron variant: Doctor warns of risk of reinfection

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The development comes days after Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced that it would be a “booster programme on steroids”, with all adults in England to be vaccinated by the end of January as the cases of Omicron variant spirals up in the country. In a letter to regional health bosses and national vaccine programme leaders, Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England said patients may not be able to book appointments under the new schedule until December 13.

They will then be invited in age bands, rather than all at once.

The letter further said that GPs will be allowed to postpone health checks for over-75s and new patients to free up time.

Requirements to monitor patients with certain health conditions under the “quality and outcomes framework” will be suspended, although they will still need to deliver vaccination and cervical screening.

The letter also confirms that the amount GPs and pharmacies are paid per vaccination will be increased over the next two months.

On Monday the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that the booster programme should be expanded to all over-18s, and the gap between second doses and boosters halved from six months to three.

The UK Health Security Agency on Friday said that it had identified 75 more cases of the Omicron variant in England, taking the total number of cases to 104.

According to the officials, people and their contacts had been asked to isolate and work is under way to establish any links to travel.

Public health bosses on Friday said that “a strong early signal” from laboratory testing had suggested that the Omicron variant was starting to spread in Britain.

The proportion of tests showing this result has increased from about 0.1 percent to about 0.3 percent in the past week, the health security agency said.

A spokesman for the agency said that “can be considered a strong early signal” but “cannot be interpreted as a change in transmissibility or an increase in the absolute number of cases of the variant”.

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the JCVI, said that people should avoid Christmas parties.

They should also be encouraged to work from home, wear masks and take frequent lateral flow tests.

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However, PM Boris Johnson said that Christmas would go ahead “as normally as possible”.

Speaking at a by-election campaign visit to Oswestry, Shropshire, the Prime Minister said that people did not need to cancel parties or nativity plays.

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