England vaccinates on Christmas Day as Omicron cases soar

Publish | 26 Dec 2021, 19:15

Online Desk

England pressed ahead with its Covid-19 immunisation campaign on Saturday in the race to inoculate as many people possible while the number of cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant soars.

At Redbridge Town Hall east of London, National Health Service staff wore Santa hats as they welcomed queues of people and administered jabs, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

"Merry Christmas" signs were displayed on the walls of the centre's vaccine booths and festive pictures, including one of an elf giving a vaccine to another elf.

"We have inspirational people in the NHS and in local government... who were willing to give up their time, even on Christmas Day, to get our community vaccinated," Mark Santos, a local Redbridge councillor, told AFP.

"Today's a real community spirit."

Redbridge resident Saif Kurshid was one of the many in the queue. "It was totally unimaginable, unfathomable, by anybody that we could have a Christmas -- or even a whole year -- like this," he said.

NHS England thanked the many who had turned up to help out on Christmas Day.

"From vaccinators to volunteers, porters to paramedics, midwives to mental health practitioners, and all other essential workers -- thank you to everyone who is working over the festive period!" it tweeted.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged Britons to "make the booster a part of your Christmas this year".

More than 30 million so-called "booster" or third coronavirus vaccine shots have been administered so far, but Javid said: "We need to go further."

A record 122,186 daily confirmed Covid-19 cases and 137 deaths were reported on Christmas Eve.

Vaccination clinics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were closed for Christmas Day.

Source: AFP