We know from bitter experience how these exponential curves develop. No one should be in any doubt: there is a tidal wave of Omicron coming, and unfortunately it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need. The good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose – a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up.
There will be some people who will be asking whether Omicron is less severe than previous variants, and whether we really need to go out and get that booster. The answer is yes we do. People must not make the mistake of thinking Omicron cannot hurt them; cannot make them and their loved ones seriously ill. We have already seen hospitalisations doubling in a week in South Africa, and we have patients with Omicron in hospital here in the UK right now. At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe, and even if that proved to be true, we already know it is so much more transmissible that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS and lead sadly to very many deaths.
That is why the Government has launched the Omicron Emergency Boost, a national mission unlike anything we have done before in the vaccination programme, to Get Boosted Now. Everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to get their COVID-19 booster before the New Year. As part of the biggest and fastest vaccine programme in health service history, online bookings are available for all those in their 30s now the national booking service will then open up to everyone aged 18 and over from Wednesday this week - that’s the best way for people to guarantee their slot, but in some places you can walk in for an appointment.
The Government will assist this emergency operation by deploying 42 military planning teams across every region, standing up additional vaccine sites and mobile units, extending opening hours so clinics are open 7 days a week – with more appointments early in the morning, in the evening, and at weekends – and training thousands more volunteer vaccinators. We will set out further steps in the days ahead.
To support local residents to know when and where they can access a vaccine closer to where they live, Mid and South Essex Health and Partnership’s refreshed www.essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk website has all the information you’ll need, including:
- How to get your 1st, 2nd or Boosters doses
- Winter health
- Mental health and needle phobia support.
Get your vaccine at Chelmsford Racecourse – This weekend 18-19 December. Find out more and pre-book your appointment at Chelmsford City Racecourse here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/eputs-big-vaccination-weekend-saturday-18th-sunday-19th-december-tickets-224652500677. There will be a number of walk-in appointments available on both days, on a first come, first served basis. But to avoid waiting, you are advised to pre-book if possible.
More information about eligibility and other places to get your jab can be found at COVID-19 Vaccine Information for Essex (essexcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)