The vaccine rollout slowed significantly in the run-up to Christmas and over the holidays. While an average of 828,681 boosters were given daily in the week ending Dec 17, by Dec 24 the daily average had almost halved to 452,234. In the week ending Jan 31 it halved again, with a daily average of 228,169.
Anyone who has had Covid must wait 28 days before being able to have a booster.
Mr Johnson said people were dying “needlessly” because they have not been properly vaccinated against Covid, telling a Downing Street news conference: “There are still almost nine million people eligible who haven’t had their booster.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking that as many as 90 per cent of those in intensive care with Covid have not had their booster, and over 60 per cent of those in intensive care, who have Covid, have not had any vaccination at all.
“People are dying needlesly because they haven’t had their jabs, they haven’t had that booster, and there are two million booster slots available this week alone. It’s already the case that to travel to some countries you need a booster to be considered fully vaccinated. It’s likely that within weeks this will increasingly become the norm.”
Booster doses provide 88 per cent of “overall protection against being hospitalised”, England’s chief medical officer has said, adding that “it is likely to be even greater than that for severe disease and mortality”. Prof Sir Chris Whitty urged anyone who had not yet received a booster to come forward.
As of Tuesday morning there were almost 300,000 slots still available for Wednesday, with 175,000 booked and a further 330,000 up for grabs on Thursday. In total, 2,008,483 jab slots are still available over the next seven days, health officials said on Tuesday.
Dr Nikki Kanani, the deputy for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “If you haven’t yet had your booster, please do come forward, as we know this provides the best protection from the omicron variant, with trusted healthcare professionals on hand to answer any questions you may have.”