Open high street jab centres so Christmas shoppers can get boosters – Labour

The shadow health secretary has urged ministers ‘pull out all the stops’ to meet the aim of offering boosters to all adults by the end of January.

Labour says more people like those pictured at Liberty Shopping Centre in Romford, east London, should be able to get their booster jab while shopping (PA)
Labour says more people like those pictured at Liberty Shopping Centre in Romford, east London, should be able to get their booster jab while shopping (PA)

People should be able to get their Covid-19 jabs while doing their Christmas shopping, Labour has said, as the opposition party calls for a “national effort” to increase the rate of booster shots.

With recent research from UK scientists finding that booster shots are likely to be effective against the Omicron variant, Labour is urging ministers to open more vaccinations sites and to open up booking slots to all double-jabbed adults.

Pop-up vaccination centres in supermarkets and shopping centres should be set-up so people can get their third shot while on the high street doing their Christmas shopping, the party has suggested.

Vaccine centres should be opened in shopping centres where people will be doing their Christmas shopping

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting is pressing the Government to “pull out all the stops” to meet the Prime Minister’s target of having offered a booster jab to all those aged over 18 by the end of January.

Mr Streeting’s team said that without an increased rate of vaccinations, the target was likely to be missed by almost two weeks.

The call comes after analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) found that, while the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines provided “much lower” levels of protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron compared to Delta, a booster dose gives around 70% to 75% protection.

Labour’s plan, as well as recommending establishing pop-up centres, would see as many as possible of the vaccination sites that were closed over the summer reopened, with the extra capacity used to provide booster appointments to all those eligible.

Retired doctors and volunteers should also be mobilised to hit the target of delivering at least 500,000 boosters per day, with a taskforce created to help deliver jabs to the most vulnerable, including the housebound.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor)

Mr Streeting said: “Our best defence against Omicron is urgently ramping up the booster programme, but the Government is not currently on track to get everyone boosted by the end of January.

“We need to pull out all the stops on this.

“Vaccine centres should be opened in shopping centres where people will be doing their Christmas shopping, we need to remobilise the army of retired medics and volunteers, and boosters should be open to all adults.

“The NHS should continue to prioritise those most at risk, including the elderly, housebound and care home residents, but there is no reason it should be turning away others who are eligible and keen to get their booster vaccines now.

“We want to make sure everyone can enjoy Christmas safely this year, as well as protecting our NHS. The best way to do that is boosting the booster campaign.”

The party said the latest figures from the NHS reveal that almost 30% of older adult care home residents have still not received their booster vaccine.

The latest seven-day average shows 384,676 people received their booster per day over the past week, which the party said was “well short” of the 500,000 a day target it called for in October.

The end of January target would be missed at that rate, according to Labour’s workings.

Opposition officials said, if it remains at that average daily rate, it would take 66 days to give everyone who has had two doses their third jab, meaning the booster campaign would not be finished until February 12.

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