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Boris Johnson has said people opposed to vaccinations are “nuts” while promoting an expanded programme of free winter flu jabs.
Speaking on the first anniversary of becoming prime minister at a doctors’ surgery in London, Johnson said to staff: “There’s all these anti-vaxxers now.
“They are nuts. They are nuts.”
He also predicted the UK will be “well on the way past” coronavirus by the “middle of next year”.
“But I must be clear with people, I do still think that we have tough times ahead in keeping this virus under control,” he added.
“We have tough times ahead in coming through economically.
“But I’ve absolutely no doubt that we are going to and this country is going to bounce back stronger than ever before.”
The government is aiming to double its winter flu vaccine programme in England to 30m people.
People aged 50 and over, and 11-year-olds, will be added to the list of who is eligible for free jabs.
Around 15m people received a seasonal flu vaccination last year.
Experts are concerned about the double impact of coronavirus and seasonal flu on the NHS.
Johnson said he wants “everybody to get a flu jab”.
“That’s why we’re rolling out the biggest ever programme of flu immunisation,” he told reporters.
“And we’re aiming first of all for schoolchildren up to Year 7, for pregnant women, for people over 65, for people who are shielded, but then we will be extending it to people who are 50 to 65.
“Now the reason for doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months because obviously we have still got Covid, we have still got the threat of a second spike on Covid, and it’s vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab and I really hope everybody will.”