SAJID Javid begged Brits last night to get their booster vaccinations or face a return to Covid restrictions.
The Health Secretary, backing The Sun’s Give Britain a Booster campaign, warned it was vital to take up a third jab not just to save lives but to keep our freedoms, too.
Another 49,139 cases were confirmed yesterday — with deaths up by a third in a week to 179 — as Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, admitted: “The numbers are going the wrong way.”
Mr Javid spoke directly to people in his Downing Street address, asking them not to blow the success so far in battling the virus — although he ruled out a return to full lockdown.
He said: “We need to sustain the progress that we’ve made. We could lose it. We really could lose that progress if people don’t take up their vaccination offers.
“As a country, we’ve come such a long way. We’ve got so much to be proud of — the scientists that designed the vaccines, the NHS, and all the volunteers that delivered the vaccines.
“And look where it has got us, look where we are today versus just not even a year ago, at the start of this year. Look how it has changed our daily lives. And we all want to keep that, we want to sustain that.”
'Urgent need to turbo-charge the booster programme'
A noticeably sombre Mr Javid cautioned that if not enough people got their boosters the Government might have to trigger Plan B, bringing in mandatory masks, vaccine passports and a return to working from home.
And he warned that a new mutant Covid was spreading fast in Britain. He added that while there was no evidence it posed a greater threat, the next one might.
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Some eight million people are eligible for their booster but so far only four million have had shots. Ministers are launching an all-out offensive to drive up this number as they try to avoid a return to the restrictions.
The NHS is opening pop-up jabbing clinics and launching an advertising campaign to get people to book their injections. Mr Javid also urged people to mask up on trains, meet outdoors if they can and take lateral flow tests every week. He said: “With winter soon upon us, these little steps make a big difference.”
But he put the country on notice that tougher measures could be on the horizon, saying: “If we don’t do our bit, get vaccinated, all those behavioural changes we can make, we are more likely to face restrictions as we head into winter?
“I think we’ve been really clear that we’ve all got a role to play.” And he said if booster rollouts remained sluggish and cases continued to soar “it would, of course, make it more likely we’re going to have more restrictions”.
I fully support this campaign from The Sun. As we get close to winter, make sure you get a booster and keep your loved ones safe.
He added: “Now we want to avoid those. We’ve set out what those restrictions might look like, we’ve set out the Plan B restrictions, for example. And we all want to avoid those. We can do it, because we’ve already done it. We’ve just got to play our part.”
Meanwhile, the Government's former vaccine czar Kate Bingham said older people should be “banging down doors” to get jabs. MPs yesterday urged Boris Johnson to launch a new drive to put vaccines into arms.
They said he should call in troops, open pop-up clinics across the country and enlist a Dad’s Army of retired medical staff to carry out the injections. The PM yesterday tweeted: “I fully support this campaign from The Sun. As we get close to winter, make sure you get a booster and keep your loved ones safe.”
Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the health select committee, said: “There is an urgent need to turbo-charge the booster programme. It is the biggest weapon in our armoury to avoid an NHS meltdown.”
MPs are privately furious with the NHS Confederation for swooping on the rise in Covid deaths and hospitalisations to immediately demand a slew of new restrictions.
One raged: “They are trying to bounce us into lockdown.”
We need to act with urgency now.
Tony Blair, who used to employ NHS Confederation head Matthew Taylor, called for ministers to enact Plan B Covid restrictions.
He wants compulsory mask wearing and vaccine passports for mass gatherings, such as concerts and footie matches, adding: “We need to act with urgency now.”
But the PM’s spokesman insisted: “There isn’t any proposed plan for any further lockdowns. We’re sticking to the plan we have set out.”
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