Leicester residents urged to get booster jab amid Omicron fears
By Thomas Carter
Fear has gripped the nation this week amid concerns of a new Covid-19 variant that could bring tighter restrictions leading up to Christmas.
Coronavirus variant B.1.1.529 (now labelled Omicron) was recently discovered by South African scientists, with 22 cases already confirmed in the UK.
As a result, the government has made the third ‘booster’ Covid-19 vaccine available for all adults, in the hope it will lead to a larger percentage of the country to be protected against the latest variant.
Similarly to the initial vaccine rollout, adults will become eligible for their booster jab in grouped age bands, with the gap between vaccinations being reduced from six months to three.
Philippa Blakeley, 21, an International Relations MA student at De Montfort University, said: “I will be having a booster jab as soon as I am able to.
“For me personally, getting a booster jab is the best way to keep any form of normality within the country, enabling us to see friends and family.
“Speaking as someone who is enjoying the return to ‘more like normal’, my mental health could not cope with another lockdown.
“Similarly, I think the wider impacts of the lockdowns on people’s mental health and also on their education is something we have failed to fully try and understand throughout the course of the pandemic.”
As with all Covid-19 variants, there is the danger of mutation that results in a strain evading the current vaccines, which would pose major problems in the country’s fight against the pandemic.
In addition to making the booster jab more widely available, the government has reintroduced mandatory face covering rules for indoor settings including retail shops, secondary schools and on public transport.
Philippa continued: “I definitely feel safer when wearing a face mask, and while numbers are high, or with the risk of the new variant, I am more than happy to wear one if it means I am able to continue doing the things I enjoy.”
As of Sunday (NOV28), vaccine uptake records show that 89 per cent of the population have received their first dose, 81 per cent have received their second dose, and 31 per cent have had the third booster jab.
Latest government data also shows that in the last 24 hours the UK recorded 39,716 positive cases and 159 deaths (statistics correct as of NOV30).