In England, Vaccinations Don't Pause for Christmas

Thousands receive 'jingle jabs' on holiday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 25, 2021 4:30 PM CST
In England, Vaccinations Don't Pause for Christmas
Nurse Salak Ali administers a "jingle jab," a COVID vaccine booster shot, to a patient Saturday at Good Health Pharmacy in north London.   (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

Thousands of people across England took a few minutes of Christmas Day to line up under leaden winter skies and 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 one of dozens of vaccination sites that kept their doors open Saturday to administer "jingle jabs" during a government push to give booster shots to all adults by the end of the year, the AP reports. Pharmacist Fenil Lalji said the shop's owners decided to stay open because they lost a family member to the pandemic and wanted to help others stay safe.

"It was a very hard time" for the family," Lalji said, "and we’re just trying to make sure no one has to go through that." 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 omicron. 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" and thanked those working through Christmas Day and Boxing Day—Sunday, a big shopping time—to administer the vaccines. The omicron threat was underlined by data released by the Office for National Statistics, which estimated that 1.7 million people in the UK had COVID-19 in the week ending Dec. 19, the most since comparable figures were first recorded in autumn 2020. About 56% of adults have received booster shots, per the New York Times, and deaths are staying relatively low, averaging 116 daily.

(More COVID booster shots stories.)

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