The Prime Minister has warned that 90% of patients in intensive care with Covid-19 have not had their booster vaccine.
Boris Johnson made an urgent plea for people to come forward for their jab, saying people need to think about the risk they are running with their health if they fail to do so.
There are 2.4 million eligible double-jabbed people who are yet to take up the offer of a booster, according to the PM.
He told reporters: “I’m sorry to say this but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted.
“I’ve talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care, who are not boosted.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re eight times more likely to get into hospital altogether.
“So it’s a great thing to do. It’s very, very important. Get boosted for yourself, and enjoy New Year sensibly and cautiously.”
‘Think about the risk’
The PM’s plea comes as the NHS mounts a fresh drive to bolster Covid-19 booster uptake to protect against the rapidly spreading Omicron variant.
The NHS vaccination programme is sending around 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters to people who have not yet received their top-up dose, encouraging them to roll up their sleeve and have a “jabby new year”.
While early evidence suggests that Omicron is milder than previous coronavirus strains and is less likely to cause serious illness than earlier waves, Mr Johnson stressed that the best form of protection against the virus is to get boosted.
Speaking during a visit to a vaccination clinic in Milton Keynes, he added: “We’re looking at the data and what we’re seeing is that we’ve got cases certainly going up, we’ve got a lot of cases of Omicron.
“But, on the other hand, we can see the data about the relative mildness of Omicron.
“What we can also see is the very, very clear effect of getting those jabs, getting those boosters in particular – and that’s what’s making a huge difference.
“According to some of the surveys I’ve seen, 90% of the patients in ICU are people who are not boosted.
“So, think about that. Think about the risk you’re running with your own health if you fail to get a booster.”
No new restrictions in England ahead of New Year
While coronavirus cases are continuing to rise, the UK government has confirmed that no new restrictions will be put in place in England before the new year.
The decision is at odds with the rest of the UK, with people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all facing stricter post-Christmas rules, including nightclub closures and limits on social mixing.
Mr Johnson said the government had looked at the “balance of the risks” on Covid policy and said he “cannot stress too much” how important it is to get a booster jab to be able to enjoy the New Year “sensibly and cautiously”.
The PM said: “I think that we’ve looked at the balance of the risks together, we generally concert our strategies together, we see the data showing that, yes, the cases are rising and, yes, hospitalisations are rising, but what is making a huge difference is the level of booster resistance or level of vaccine-induced resistance in the population.
“What we need to do now is really finish off that work. I’ve no doubt at all that by January 1, by the New Year, every adult in the country will have been offered the slot to get a booster. They’ll be given a slot to get one.
“The question is, are we getting people coming forward to take advantage of those slots? And that’s what needs to happen.”