The NHS will have to postpone some planned appointments in order to meet the target of giving every adult in England a Covid-19 booster jab by the end of the year, Press Association has reported.

Nursing leaders have expressed concern, stating the “scale and pace” of the vaccine programme expansion aims to jab almost a million people a day.

A charity has said the government must ensure NHS cancer services are “prioritised and protected”.

The booster vaccine target was brought forward by a month due to fears of the new Omicron variant that could cause a “tidal wave” of cases.

Oxford Mail: Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Sunday evening (PA)Boris Johnson addressed the nation on Sunday evening (PA)

Boris Johnson, in a pre-recorded address to the nation on Sunday evening, said Britain “must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection” as he set the new deadline of jabbing everyone over 18 by the new year.

He added that scientists had discovered that two doses of the vaccine is “simply not enough” in preventing the spread of the new variant.

42 military planning teams will be deployed across every health region to help administer the jabs before December 31.

To make this new target achievable, some NHS appointments will be postponed until the New Year.

Extra vaccine sites will be opened and additional mobile units deployed, clinic opening hours are to be extended to allow people to be jabbed around the clock and at weekends, while thousands more vaccinators will be trained.

Boris Johnson said: “To hit the pace we need, we’ll need to match the NHS’s best vaccination day so far – and then beat that day after day.

“This will require an extraordinary effort.

Oxford Mail: NHS must beat previous vaccine records (PA)NHS must beat previous vaccine records (PA)

“And as we focus on boosters and make this new target achievable, it will mean some other appointments will need to be postponed until the new year.

“But if we don’t do this now, the wave of Omicron could be so big that cancellations and disruptions, like the loss of cancer appointments, would be even greater next year.”

The highest number of vaccinations reported in one day in the UK was 844,285 on March 20 2021 – equivalent to vaccinating the entire population of Liverpool in one day, according to the Government website.

In a direct plea to GPs, doctors, nurses and others on the NHS front line, who he said had “worked incredibly hard” throughout the pandemic, Mr Johnson said: “I must ask you to make another extraordinary effort now, so we can protect you, and your colleagues, and above all protect your patients from even greater pressures next year.”

NHS England said GP teams will be asked to “clinically prioritise their services to free up maximal capacity” to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care.


It said this “might mean that for some people, routine appointments are postponed as part of the national mission to roll out boosters”.

Steven McIntosh, executive director of advocacy and communications at Macmillan Cancer Support, said everyone can play a role in reducing pressure on critical NHS care by getting vaccinated, getting a booster jab and following Covid guidelines.

“However, the Government also must not fail to ensure NHS cancer services are prioritised and protected this winter to ensure that nobody faces long waits and disruption in vital cancer care,” he said.

Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing, said nursing staff have already played a leading role in the delivery of vaccines and stand ready to do the same again.

“However, we are concerned about the scale and pace of this expansion, given these same nurses are already facing huge demands under existing unsustainable pressures in every part of the UK health and care system,” Ms Cullen said.

As of Sunday, December 12, the UK recorded a further 1239 confirmed cases of the Omicron mutation, bringing the total number of cases to 3137 – a 65% increase from Saturday’s total of 1898.

However, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the actual number was likely to be 10 times as high.