Britain – Crowds flock to vaccination centers on Christmas Day due to Omicron

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It was not even noon and while some were still opening their Christmas presents, a queue had formed outside the Redbridge vaccination center in north-east London.

Due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the United Kingdom, the vaccination campaign, which is being carried out at an unprecedented rate, does not stop even at Christmas.

“It was unthinkable, no one could have imagined that Christmas or this year would go like this,” said Saif Kursid, who spoke to AFP after his vaccination. “It was a year of vaccinations, an unprecedented period,” he added.

The vaccination center is housed in the town hall of Redbridge, a popular neighborhood in the British capital.

Festive vaccinations

Nurses, wearing Santa Claus hats, welcomed the citizens. “Merry Christmas” was written in large letters on the walls, while on one poster one elf was vaccinating another elf.

Simran Johal, a pharmacist who went to work at the center today, assured that thanks to the teamwork, the atmosphere remains festive. “I think everyone wants to end all this soon, so that we can get back to some kind of normalcy. “This is the motivation for us as well,” he stressed.

Due to the rapid spread of Omicron, which he described as a “tsunami”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson signaled a general mobilization to give the booster dose to all adults by the end of the year. More than 32 million people (56% of the population over the age of 12) have already taken the third dose, at a rate approaching 1 million a day – a rate not even recorded in the spring when the Covid vaccination campaign -19 was at its peak.

More than 700 soldiers were called in to help

More than 700 soldiers were called in to bolster the nationwide effort, volunteers volunteered and it was decided that the vaccination would not be stopped even on Christmas Day. “There are 20 volunteers, 20 National Health Service staff who are here all day, vaccinating, showing us how dedicated people are,” said Mark Santos, a Redbridge City Councilor who went to see if the process was going well.

London is at the heart of a pandemic resurgence in Britain, which has killed more than 147,000 people since Covid-19 in March 2020. In recent days, the number of cases has exceeded 100,000 daily. Hospitalizations are starting to increase and the latest data show that the situation in the capital is deteriorating.

Source: ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ, AFP

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