People should come forward for a Covid booster vaccine when their time comes, Boris Johnson said.
The prime minister urged those entitled to a third dose of the vaccine to arrange an appointment immediately.
He said the government was “continuing with its plan” and that things were much better now than they were a year ago thanks to the vaccine’s launch.
Doctors urged ministers to activate England’s “Plan B” amid increasing cases.
Plan B would reset rules like mandatory face masks and work-from-home advice – the measures the British Medical Association (BMA) has said are needed now.
Speaking in Northern Ireland, Johnson said the number of infections and deaths observed was “within the parameters of what were expected … given the steps we have taken”.
It was also because the country was in an “incomparably better position than last year due to vaccines” that there was more confidence around the current plan in place, “he said.
He also insisted that “the most important thing people can do is get that recall shot” and that “when you get the call, you get the shot.”
The Prime Minister appealed to those between the ages of 12 and 15 to get their first vaccination because there was no “shortage of supplies” and there were “huge quantities” of the vaccine available.
An estimated 4.7 million booster doses – arriving at least six months after the second injection – have been delivered in the UK.
- What’s the Plan B for Covid this winter?
- Why are Covid cases in the UK so high?
- When will I get a booster shot?
According to the government’s plan to deal with Covid in England during the winter, the strategy currently in place is Plan A.
It involves offering booster vaccines to approximately 30 million people and offering a single dose of the vaccine to healthy young people between the ages of 12 and 15, as well as encouraging ventilation for indoor meetings, hands and face masks in crowded places.
Daily infections in the UK exceeded 40,000 for eight consecutive days.
Over the past seven days, the number of Covid patients admitted to hospital has increased by 11% and the number of deaths has increased by 21%, compared to the previous week, although the number remains far below the January peak.
Case rates are on the rise in all but one regions of England, the UK Health Safety Agency said, with London’s lowest rates.
Covid rates were highest in people between the ages of 10 and 19, with the lowest seen in those over 80.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, president of the BMA, said doctors can “categorically” say “it’s time” to start Plan B.
He pointed out that the case numbers were comparable to March, when England was in solitary confinement, and were “unheard of in similar European nations”.
“It is therefore incredibly troubling that [Mr Javid] it is not prepared to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS, “he said.
But on Wednesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that “at this point” the government will not introduce Plan B measures.
However, he also warned that insufficient vaccine intake would make restrictions in England more likely.
Who will get a booster?
Throughout the UK, recalls are offered to:
- Over 50 years old
- Frontline health and social workers
- Seniors in residential care homes
- People between the ages of 16 and 49 with previous health conditions that put them at greater risk of severe Covid
- Adults who share a family with vulnerable people
The dose should be given at least six months after a second vaccination and will typically be Pfizer or Moderna.
Health Minister Edward Argar said Tory MPs should decide whether to wear a face cover while in crowded communes, after Javid urged people in England to cover their faces in crowded places.
Behavioral expert Professor Robert West, who advises the government, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One program that politicians should lead the public when it comes to wearing the mask.
He said he gave those who are undecided “some kind of excuse if you like to say, ‘If they don’t do it why should I do it?'”
Meanwhile, Johnson’s official spokesman said reports that a tougher so-called Plan C for England was in the works were “not accurate”. “Neither ministers nor officials are working on those proposals,” he added.
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