COVID-19 jabs pass 1m per day as 'truly incredible' GP efforts hailed

NHS leaders have hailed a 'truly incredible' surge in the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as jabs per day passed the 1m mark UK-wide.

Almost 29m people UK-wide had received booster or third-dose COVID-19 vaccinations by the end of Sunday 19 December - with 5.4m booster jabs delivered UK-wide in the one-week period up to and including that date.

Total COVID-19 vaccinations UK-wide hit 1,024,833 on 18 December - a record high that marked the third day running in a four-day period that saw more than 900,000 jabs administered per 24 hours.

Of the total jabs delivered on 18 December, 91.8% were booster doses, 4.5% second doses and 3.7% first doses.

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GPonline COVID-19 vaccination tracker

The surge in vaccinations comes after NHS England said last week it was time to 'pull out all of the stops' in the race against the highly transmissible Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Confirmed daily infections UK-wide have hit record levels in recent days, with 547,606 cases recorded in the seven-day period to 19 December as officials warned that Omicron was now the dominant variant in parts of the UK and driving rapid rates of infection.

The government has called on GPs to focus on urgent and emergency work only, with the focus shifting to the vaccination campaign. Parts of the QOF and enhanced services work have been suspended, with some funding from the Impact and Investment Fund redirected to incentivise participation in the booster campaign and to support recruitment.

The requirement for a 15-minute observation period for patients who have received an mRNA COVID-19 jab has also been suspended to speed up the process of delivering jabs.

COVID-19 boosters

Dr Emily Lawson, NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme director in England, said: 'Hitting two record booster days in a row just shows how hard NHS staff and volunteers are working to protect the nation as the new variant Omicron spreads.'

She added: 'The NHS is in a race against time to offer all eligible adults the protection of a booster, as well as first and second doses. Day after record-breaking day, our amazing staff are hitting new heights to continue helping the public to protect themselves and those around them.'

NHS England medical Professor Stephen Powis called the accelerated vaccination drive 'truly incredible', thanking health service staff and volunteers for 'continuing to go above and beyond day-in, day-out'.

However, concern is also mounting over the impact of relentless workload on primary care staff - with the GMC warning last week that one in three GPs were at 'high risk' of burnout and that more than half were struggling to cope with workload.

The rapid spread of Omicron, meanwhile, threatens to undermine the NHS workforce as growing numbers of staff infected with the new variant are forced to self-isolate.

*Note: This story was updated after publication to reflect revised official vaccination data that showed the NHS delivered more than 1m doses on 18 December.

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