BORIS Johnson will today unveil a major ramping up of the booster rollout to dramatically increase the weekly rate of jabs going into arms.
The PM is poised to set out new plans to reopen pop up vaccine centres across the country and allow Brits to walk in without an appointment.
He aims to put rocket boosters under the programme and increase the number of doses administered every week from 2.5 million to 3.5 million.
Ministers hope that a huge surge in top-up shots can help keep the Omicron variant at bay by providing Brits with an extra layer of protection.
During a No 10 press conference this afternoon Boris will also insist new restrictions in force today are "proportionate and responsible".
He will say they're necessary to “buy us time in the face of this new variant" while scientists discover more about how dangerous it is.
It comes as…
- New rules have come into force TODAY to stop the new variant Omicron
- Brits face fines if they don't wear masks on public transport or in shops
- Schools WON'T close despite the new strain
- Docs fear the new strain will put certain people at greater risk
- European leaders said they are in a race against time to stop the new variant from spreading
The PM said yesterday: "Based on everything we know, our vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence.
"So it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted.
“Not only will today's steps help us slow down the variant’s spread, but they will help us protect each other and the gains we have all worked so hard for.”
The PM will lay out his hopes of preventing more restrictions over Christmas at a 4pm briefing from No 10.
It comes after scientists yesterday green-lighted boosters for all adults in the UK in a bid to ward off the spread of Omicron.
They also slashed the gap needed between a second and third dose from six months to just three.
Boris said today: "The measures taking effect today are proportionate and responsible, and will buy us time in the face of this new variant.
"Vaccines and boosters remain our best line of defence, so it is more important than ever that people come forward when eligible to get boosted."
There have been five cases of Omicron identified in England and six in Scotland, but ministers expect that number to rise.
Experts say while the new strain might dent the effectiveness of current vaccines it's very unlikely to evade them completely.
Ministers have pledged to remain on the “front foot” in the fight against the Covid super-strain.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday vowed the NHS booster programme is being put "on steroids".
But frustrated Brits aged 18 or over who would now be eligible were confused after being unable to book a vaccine appointment yesterday.
The announcement sparked a scramble on the NHS vaccine booking website, with thousands of people waiting in online queues to secure a slot.
Others aged 40 or over who were jabbed more than three months ago also couldn't make an appointment.
That was because the change in the time-gap between second and third doses hadn't yet been updated on the NHS website.
The PM has also announced new restrictions to help curb the spread of the mutant variant which came into force at 4am this morning.
They include compulsory mask wearing on public transport and in shops, post offices, and banks – but not pubs and restaurants.
Brits who come into contact with someone who tests positive for Omicron will now have to isolate for 10 days even if they're vaccinated.
And international arrivals now need to take a PCR test on Day 2 and must quarantine until they get a negative result.
MPs will vote on the new measures today, with only a handful of Tory lockdown sceptics expected to rebel against the plans.
Today ministers tried to reassure Brits that "Christmas is on track" but warned a lot will depend on how dangerous the variant turns out to be.
Scientists think the new strain is much more transmissible but little is know about its potential ability to evade vaccines.
In South Africa, where it was identified, doctors have reported mild symptoms in positive cases but they are predominantly younger people.
Care minister Gillian Keegan said: "The boosters will help, and we're just trying to deal with this unknown at the moment.
"We very much hope that we we have a Christmas this year, we've had an awful experience last year."
She said the chances of being forced to isolate over the festive period were "pretty low" but the new variant "is unfortunate timing from that perspective".
And she added: "Keep your Christmas plans in place, but of course we will have to deal with it as the scientists get more information to us."
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