Article submitted by Karen Bradley – Member of Parliament for the Staffordshire Moorlands:
As we see a rise in cases, a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe and the emergence of the Omicron variant in recent days, the Government is urging those eligible for a booster to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.
We always knew the coming months would be challenging and whilst we have seen some outbreaks here in the Moorlands, vaccines remain our best defence against the virus. People aged 40 to 49 can now book their booster jab if eligible, and 16 to 17 year olds their second dose. Those eligible for a booster can book an appointment in advance – 5 months after their second dose – to be vaccinated as soon as they reach the 6-month mark.
The Omicron variant is a stark reminder that we are not yet out of this pandemic, and we must take steps to protect the gains we have made in our fight against the virus. The Prime Minister has said that it appears that Omicron spreads very rapidly, and can be spread between people who are double vaccinated. He has therefore announced new temporary and precautionary measures and from Tuesday, all contacts of suspected Omicron cases must by law self-isolate for 10 days, face coverings will become compulsory in shops and on public transport, and all international arrivals must take a PCR test on or before day 2 and self-isolate until they receive a negative result.
Booster jabs and second doses will protect the progress we have already made through our phenomenal vaccination programme, ensuring we can enjoy Christmas safely. People are encouraged to come forward for their jabs as soon as they are eligible to get the best possible protection ahead of winter.