Daily Mail

Send in the troops... Army will help 30m booster drive

GPs offered £15 per dose – and £20 on Sundays – to help us hit new vaccines target by Jan 31

- By Jason Groves, Eleanor Hayward and Mark Nicol

GPs will be offered £15 per jab, the Army will be called in and 1,500 vaccine sites will be set up in a dramatic bid to deliver 30million booster jabs by the end of next month.

Launching what he described as ‘another great British vaccinatio­n effort’, Boris Johnson last night vowed to ‘throw everything’ at the rollout to ensure there are no more Covid restrictio­ns.

The Prime Minister said at least 400 troops would be drafted in to help ward off the omicron variant. They will assist with logistics as well as directly delivering jabs.

GPs and pharmacist­s will be offered lucrative payments worth at least £15 per injection as part of efforts to deliver an average of more than half a million shots per day. They will also be asked to open sites on sundays.

Meanwhile, dozens of hospitals will be

‘We all have a role to play’

to set up vaccinatio­n centres on their grounds. Another 1,500 sites will be set up in pharmacies.

officials are also looking at whether the 15-minute wait required of patients after they have had the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be shortened, or even eliminated, to increase the numbers being treated.

NHs chief Amanda Pritchard yesterday appealed to the ‘jabs army’ of volunteers who delivered the original rollout to sign up again.

Mr Johnson, who will have his own booster tomorrow, told a Downing street press conference that third doses were ‘our single best defence against omicron’. He said: ‘We’re going to be throwing everything at it, in order to ensure that everyone eligible is offered that booster in just over two months.’

He added that new vaccinatio­n centres would be ‘popping up like Christmas trees’ across the country.

Health secretary sajid Javid said people should get vaccinated to ‘give ourselves the best chance of a Christmas with our loved ones’.

He continued: ‘Although we can’t say with certainty what lies ahead, we have one huge advantage that we didn’t have [last winter]: our vaccinatio­n programme, which has already done so much to keep this virus at bay. But these defences will only keep us safe if we use them.

‘This is a national mission and we all have a role to play.’

The Ministry of Defence confirmed last night that it was raising personnel from the royal Army Medical Corps and the royal Logistics Corps. rAMC units and others will provide medics while the rLC will offer

drivers and planning experts. Government scientists announced major changes to the rollout programme on Monday to help prepare the UK for a possible wave of the Omicron variant.

The qualifying time for a booster shot was cut from six months after a second dose to three, while eligibilit­y was extended from the over-40s to cover all adults. The jabs will be rolled out in stages for younger age groups, as with the initial vaccinatio­n programme.

The NHS will initially continue to offer boosters only to the over-40s. But as the

vaccinatio­n programme is ramped up, the offer will gradually be extended to younger people in five-year age bands, with the aim of reaching everyone by the end of January.

Miss Pritchard said the increase in capacity ‘cannot happen overnight’ given the existing pressures on the NHS, but said staff were working at ‘breakneck speed’.

Under the current arrangemen­ts, GPs and pharmacist­s are paid £12.58 for each jab delivered. Miss Pritchard said this would rise to £15 during the booster surge. They

will receive an extra £5 for each jab delivered

on a Sunday, in an attempt to persuade more premises to open on that day. In a further attempt to persuade GP surgeries to act as vaccinatio­n centres, the CQC health watchdog has agreed to suspend inspection­s over winter to free up time.

The booster drive will also see the NHS recruit an extra 10,000 paid staff as vaccinator­s, and the NHS is appealing for ‘tens of thousands of volunteers’ to sign up to the ‘national effort’.

There are currently 3,000 vaccinatio­n sites across the country – twice as many as

in February. Mrs Pritchard said: ‘We will need to expand vaccinatio­n capacity right across the NHS. Hundreds of hospitals are already jabbing their own staff. We’re now asking them to vaccinate other local NHS workers, eligible patients and social care staff as well.’

An extra 12.9million people became eligible for booster jabs on Monday when the

gap between second and third doses was halved to three months. In total, around 50million adults will eventually be offered third doses – with 18million delivered so far.

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