Thousands of people across England are spending a few minutes of their Christmas Day to line up in the cold to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the Omicron variant fuels a surge in infections across the country.
The Good Health Pharmacy in north London is just one of the dozens of vaccination sites that decided to keep their doors open Saturday to administer “jingle jabs” amid a government push to offer booster shots to all adults by the end of the year.
London Pharmacist Fenil Lalji told the BBC that the shop’s owners decided to stay open because they lost a family member to the pandemic and wanted to do what they could to help others stay safe. “His family has obviously had a really hard time so his children wanted to make sure they could provide the maximum level of contribution to fighting this COVID virus,″ Lalji said. “It was a very hard time for his family, and we’re just trying to make sure no one has to go through that.″
🎄The news came as NHS England announced that the public will be able to get a booster on Christmas Day as part of increased efforts to top-up protection against the omicron variant
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 24, 2021
Britain has expanded its booster program over the past two weeks, reopening sports stadiums and cathedrals as inoculation hubs, after research showed that two doses of the vaccine weren’t enough to protect against the highly transmissible omicron variant.
It's Christmas at the Crumbles!!🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄
— Sussex Health and Care Partnership (@Sussex_HCP) December 25, 2021
Even as the National Health Service races to vaccinate as many people as possible, the number of confirmed infections soared past 100,000 a day last week for the first time during the pandemic. Health Secretary Sajid Javid on Friday urged people to “make the booster a part of your Christmas this year,” praised those who are working through the festive period to deliver the shots. “I would like to thank the tireless and selfless work of the NHS and volunteers for sacrificing time with their loved ones to deliver life-saving jabs through Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year, and helping everyone to Get Boosted Now,” Javid said in a statement.
NHS colleagues and volunteers will be delivering life-saving booster jabs this festive period. There are around 200,000 slots available across Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) December 24, 2021