Britons getting Covid vaccines shouldn’t have to wait around for 15 minutes afterwards, health chiefs ruled today in an attempt to speed up the booster roll-out as the NHS bragged the chaotic first day of Boris Johnson’s jabbing blitz was the ‘busiest ever Monday’

Britons getting Covid vaccines shouldn’t have to wait around for 15 minutes afterwards, health chiefs ruled today in an attempt to speed up the booster roll-out as the NHS bragged the chaotic first day of Boris Johnson’s jabbing blitz was the ‘busiest ever Monday’.

Professor Chris Whitty and fellow chief medical officers said the observation period after getting an injection will ’cause more harm than it can avert’ and should be suspended.

After having a vaccine people are usually asked to wait for a period of observation to ensure they do not have an allergic reaction. But the top medics claimed keeping up the advice would ‘significantly reduce the number of people who can be vaccinated over a short period of time’. 

The final decision on whether to temporarily suspend the post-jab wait — which the medics said will ‘protect as many citizens as possible over a short period of time’ — now lies with ministers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

If approved, the UK’s medicines regulator and top scientists can decide to reintroduce it after the turbo-charged booster campaign is over, they said.

Meanwhile, NHS chiefs today bragged about the first day of the booster vaccine blitz, despite scenes of absolute chaos that were repeated again today with Britons queuing for hours only to be turned away.

Some 513,722 top-up doses were dished out across the UK yesterday, which the health service described as its ‘busiest Monday ever’.But the total figure – hailed as a ‘remarkable achievement’ – is still just half of the million-a-day target needed to meet the Prime Minister’s ambitious pledge of offering a jab to all eligible over-18s by New Year’s Day.

Yesterday’s booster drive descended into chaos as the campaign was suddenly opened to every adult and millions scrambled to get their vital third dose ahead of Christmas, with the NHS site crashing under demand and hours-long queues forming outside walk-in centres.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab today acknowledged ‘teething problems’ in scaling up the scheme, saying it would take a ‘few days’ to get to a ‘steady state’.He told BBC Breakfast: ‘We’ll keep straining every sinew to make sure we can reach that target.’

But the chaos continued today, as Britons desperate to get jabbed queued from 6am outside clinics that didn’t open for another two hours. Massive queues snaked out of vaccination centres again, as tens of thousands of adults waited patiently for an extra dose as the threat of Omicron continues to grow.

Younger Britons claimed to have been turned away by clinics because they are not yet eligible, after waiting over an hour to be seen. The drive is currently officially open to over-30s only and will expand to all over-18s from tomorrow.

And the NHS booking site – which crashed yesterday due to the overwhelming demand – told people trying to get an appointment to ‘try again tomorrow’.Only 650,000 appointments were booked yesterday, with them scheduled for the coming days and weeks, despite more than 4.4million attempts to book shots.

Boris Johnson thanked NHS workers for their ‘incredible efforts’ in a letter and called for their help in delivering the ‘biggest, fastest vaccination drive this country has ever seen’. 

In a televised address to the nation on Sunday night, the Prime Minister pledged to offer all eligible adults a third jab by the end of the year.The mammoth task at hand effectively involves vaccinating more than a million people every day.

Mr Johnson has now issued a new rallying cry for tens of thousands of people to volunteer to help the rollout hit its ‘ambitious’ targets.

But a senior NHS source last night broke ranks to warn that even hitting that daily number by Christmas would be tough, let alone maintaining the level throughout the month.

At the height of the NHS’s vaccine drive in March, the health service never managed to get more than 850,000 jabbed every day.The current daily average stands at around 420,000, and there are around 18million who have yet to have their third jab.

Meanwhile, GPs today complained they would not have enough jabs to ramp up the scheme in the next fortnight after being given until 9am to order stocks to meet the December 31 deadline.Dr Jess Harvey, a GP in Shropshire, said her surgery found out about the scaling up of the programme at the same time as the rest of the nation.

As the booster drive was mired in chaos: 

  • Boris Johnson faced a 70-strong Tory revolt over plans to impose vaccine passports on nightclubs and large events, amid warnings they are a ‘softening up exercise’ for a full lockdown;
  • Britons are still left unable to order lateral flow tests on the day new regime requiring all Covid case contacts to take rapid swabs for seven days in a row begins;
  • Nicola Sturgeon prepares to tighten curbs north of the border with social distancing and limits on indoor gatherings set to be brought back;
  • Mr Javid warns three jabs will be needed for a Covid passport once Brits have had a ‘reasonable chance’ to receive the shots.

At the height of the first vaccination drive Britain was delivered a maximum of 840,000 jabs on a single day.Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this level needs to be matched ant then exceeded. Pictured above is a graph showing the number of booster jabs delivered per day (green bars) and the target for the rest of December (red bars)

BRISTOL: People desperate to get a booster jab before Christmas queued up in a snaking line over a car park.Many are facing up to three hour waits to get their top-up doses

RAMSGATE, KENT: People pictured waiting to be called for their jab at a mass vaccination centre.Britain’s booster drive is being ramped up to beat the Omicron Covid variant

SOLIHULL, BIRMINGHAM: Hundreds were seen lining up to get their doses at a vaccination centre in Solihull, having to queue across the high street

WESTMINSTER, LONDON: People were also seen queuing along the pavement today at the Abbey Centre in the capital in order to get a booster before seeing loved ones at Christmas

WESTMINSTER, LONDON: People pictured queuing to get their booster vaccines at St Thomas’ hospital.Their clinic had five-hour long queues yesterday, but promised everyone waiting would get a jab

Boris Johnson (pictured returning from his morning run today) has set a target of delivering one million Covid booster jabs a day.Senior NHS sources broke ranks last night to warn hitting that number by Christmas will be tough. And Health Secretary Sajid Javid (right) heading into Downing Street today

This graph shows how Britain’s vaccination drive is going.There was a lag in September as the booster drive got going, which opposition parties have already slammed saying it has put the country at unnecessary risk

 It comes amid the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant.The above graph shows cumulative cases identified in the UK by each nation. It reveals cases are surging rapidly, and yesterday rose 50 per cent compared to the day before

According to NHS data, many older age groups who have been eligible to get a Covid booster since September still have double digit percentage figures of people who are yet to get a third dose.Some 81 per cent of people aged 40-to-49 have yet to have a booster

 The super-mutant strain already makes up around half of cases in London, and is expected to become dominant in the capital by Wednesday.It is also behind an increasing proportion of cases across the rest of the country

Furious GPs are warning they are already out of vaccine.Pictured above is the queue for the booster walk-in centre at St Thomas’ hospital, London. The picture was taken at 7.30am this morning, 30 minutes before the booster hub opens. Yesterday the line stretch to an up to five-hour wait after only four employees were assigned to dishing out the doses

Britons trying to book their booster jab on the NHS bookings website are now greeted with this message, warning that there is ‘extremely high demand’ and that those who are unable to get through should ‘try again later’

In a report to the Government, the UK’s four chief medical officers said suspending the 15-minute wait ‘will lead to a marginal increase in risk for a very small number of people’.

But they noted this figure is ‘substantially fewer than would be harmed by a slower vaccine rollout in the current public health emergency leading to some citizens not getting boosted or vaccinated prior to exposure to Omicron’.

All of the Covid jabs used in the UK are safe and have low rates of severe side effects, but all vaccines can cause anaphylaxis — a severe and potentially life-threatening reaction to a trigger, such as a vaccine.

The anaphylaxis rate after a booster dose is 0.26 per 100,000, which is less than seen after the first two doses of Moderna (1.47 per 100,000) and Pfizer (1.23 per 100,000).

The CMOs repeated warnings that Omicron is spreading ‘extremely rapidly’ and doubling every two to three days.

The group wrote: ‘Even if less severe than Delta, with the very high numbers involved modelling from several groups show this will cause substantial mortality, severe illness and pressure on the NHS.This constitutes a national health emergency.’

And the 15-minute wait means 500,000 fewer people can get vaccinated by the end of the year who would otherwise have done so, which is ‘much greater’ than the number who will suffer anaphylaxis post-vaccination, the CMOs said.

It comes with NHS chiefs in a mad scramble to get Britain’s booster drive ramped up, telling sites to stay open for at least 12 hours a day — and planning new vaccination centres in cathedrals, football stadiums and leisure centres.

Britons woke up in the middle of the night to book their booster jabs online and avoid lengthy queues this morning. Those who got up between 2am and 5am reported that they had successfully booked their vaccination, but others complained they spent ages in the queue.

And some people started queuing outside walk-in clinics at 6am to get their booster jab including at St Thomas’ hospital in London, which does not open until 8am.

Under-30s also told how they had waited more than an hour in the queue to get a booster only to be told they were ‘not eligible’ and should come back tomorrow.

Politics Home reporter Noa Hoffman wrote on Twitter: ‘Just spent an hour queuing for a booster in a walk-in centre only to be turned away and told I’m not eligible for a jab until tomorrow.’

And another reporter said they were told the same by their vaccine centre, despite receiving a text yesterday inviting them to book a slot for the jab.

Some 20million Britons are thought to now be eligible for boosters but yet to get a dose, but only half a million managed to secure appointments last night.

GPs have complained they were left with too little time to sort out orders for jabs after finding out at 8pm on Sunday — along with the rest of the nation — that they would need to get third doses to all over-18s.