People will be able to get a Covid booster vaccine on Christmas Day, NHS England has announced as part of increased efforts to top-up protection against the Omicron variant.
The rollout will carry on during Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, with around 200,000 appointments for a third dose still available across the country over the festive period.
The health service said its “jingle jab” campaign will see NHS staff and volunteers administer doses at scores of local vaccination sites including town halls and local pharmacies.
NHS England advised booking in advance but said there will be options available for people without appointments across the country, including in Eastbourne, Hartlepool, Croydon and Dewsbury.
Experts have warned that while a first or second dose can help, only boosters provide the maximum level of protection against Omicron.
Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid vaccination programme, said: “We’ve seen record after record broken in the run-up to the festive season and I want to thank every NHS staff member and volunteer whose goodwill and determination to protect their communities will keep the booster rollout going this Christmas weekend.
“This Christmas, before sitting down to your dinner with your family, I would encourage anyone not already boosted to come forward, book an appointment and get the gift of a jab.”
The push over the festive period comes after a bumper weekend of 1.5 million doses and a record-breaking week for booster jabs. On Wednesday, 1.06 million vaccines were administered, the highest number ever – 968,665 of which were top-up doses.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid paid tribute to NHS staff and volunteers giving up their time with family and friends to help the booster rollout over Christmas.
He said: “Thank-you for everything that you’ve done and everything that you’re doing – this Christmas and all year round.
“You continue to be the very best of us – you achieve phenomenal things and I’m proud to call you colleagues.”
NHS England chief Amanda Pritchard praised the “extraordinary team effort” of health service staff in the face of Omicron.
“I know it is a worrying time professionally and personally for everyone, and that many colleagues are drained after such a gruelling period,” she said.
“The NHS is nothing without its incredible staff. This time, thanks to NHS staff and volunteers, we are armed with the protection offered by first, second and booster doses.”