Boris Johnson Doesn't Even Know How The Covid Booster Scheme Works

“It’s a demand issue. We really urge people to come and do it," the prime minster said on Thursday.
Boris Johnson has encouraged people to book their own booster jabs
Boris Johnson has encouraged people to book their own booster jabs
TOLGA AKMEN via Getty Images

Boris Johnson has blamed the sluggish pace of the rollout vaccine programme on people not coming forward for their boosters – but this ignores a key detail about how the jab scheme actually works.

Speaking in Northern Ireland on Thursday, the prime minister said there are enough vaccines to go around, adding: “It’s a demand issue. We really urge people to come and do it.”

However, this does not take into account the way the booster programme operates. To avoid overwhelming the NHS people are only able to get their third jab once they are called up.

As the gov.uk website explains: “Your GP should be able to tell you if you should get the coronavirus vaccine.

“Some people may receive a letter or a phone call to invite them for their vaccination.”

It continues: “Your invitation letter will explain who to call for your appointment.

“Use the telephone to make your appointment. You will get told where to go for your vaccine and when.”

The prime minister did later say, “the most important thing people can do is get that booster jab, adding that “when you get the call, get the jab”.

Still both the NHS and the department of health have been criticised for not getting everyone over 50, all the frontline workers and the vulnerable adults a third dose of the Covid vaccine.

Around 30 million people in the UK will eventually qualify for the booster jab but only those who were jabbed longer than six months ago have been advised to come forward at the moment as vaccine efficacy only starts to wane around that benchmark.

NHS data shows 3.7 million in England have received the booster so far.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has claimed two million eligible individuals have not yet been invited, blaming the government’s “complacent attitude” when it comes to the jabs.

He said: “Ministers can’t blame the public while two million people haven’t even had an invitation for a booster jab.

“On current trends we won’t complete boosters until March 2022.

“Instead of doing 165,000 booster jabs a day, why not set a commitment to do 500,000 jabs a day and get this programme completed by Christmas, mobilising pop-up clinics and making better use of community pharmacies?”

The prime minister has also been rejecting calls to move to a set of Covid restrictions even though Britain has become one of the worst virus hotspots in the world.

As of Thursday, the UK hit 52,000 positive Covid cases – the highest number since mid-July when the country was completely “unlocked”.