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BRITS have limited time to get their booster jab if they want the maximum amount of protection on Christmas Day, the Government says.

The big day is one month away and families are bound to get together for a blowout after having to spend last year apart under lockdown rules.

1Get your booster ASAP for a safe ChristmasCredit: Alamy

There are no current plans to put a cap on Christmas celebrations.

While it's good news, it means catching Covid from relatives poses a risk, even after vaccines have been given to millions of people.

In order to have more than 90 per cent protection against Covid illness and hospitalisation, experts say it’s time those eligible book their top-up jab.

It takes around 14 days for antibodies to grow after an injection.

Therefore, December 11 is the deadline day for optimal protection. 

A Department of Health and Social care spokesperson said: “People who have had their booster vaccine by 11 December will have very high protection against Covid-19 by Christmas Day.

“Following a rise in cases and a return of lockdown restrictions in Europe, those eligible for a booster have been urged to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect themselves, their families and help to reduce the pressure on the NHS.”

Europe has seen a wave of infections over recent weeks that have led authorities to force shutdowns across the continent.

Experts are confident the UK is unlikely to see the same fate provided that uptake for boosters is strong.

You can get a booster vaccine if you are over the age of 40 and it’s been six months since your second dose.

Bookings are open from the five-month mark so you can get a booster on the day you are eligible. 

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The clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers can also get a top-up, regardless of age.

And third doses are also being offered to people over 12 who were severely immunosuppressed, including those with leukaemia, advanced HIV and organ transplants, who are unlikely to have gotten full protection from two jabs.

So far about 16 million people have had a booster vaccine or a third dose across Britain. 

A number of Britain’s biggest charities have backed the booster campaign.

The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK are among 16 charities encouraging vulnerable people to take up the offer of a top-up jab.

The charities will also encourage patients to get vaccinated against flu - another winter virus that can be deadly. 

Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “I am hugely grateful to all the charities who are backing our vaccine campaign and supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society.

“With winter approaching, it’s so important that those who are at risk from the virus are protected in order to keep themselves safe.

“The vaccines are safe and effective and are helping us build a wall of defence against Covid-19. Please come forward for yours as soon as you can.”

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The fight against COVID-19 through the vaccines is a national mission and it’s brilliant to see so many different organisations step up to help get this message to those most at-risk.

“If you’re yet to get your first, second or booster dose, please do come forward for the jab as soon as possible.”

How much do boosters increase Covid protection?

Symptomatic infection

Adults aged 50 years and over have 93.1 per cent protection against symptomatic infection after two Oxford/AstraZeneca (AZ) doses.

This falls from 65 per cent, up to three months after the second dose, to 45 per cent six months after the second dose.

Those who had an initial course of Pfizer get protection of 94 per cent. 

This falls to 90 per cent after three months to 65 per cent after six.

But after boosters (of which all are Pfizer), protection goes up to 93.1 per cent in those who first got AZ, and 94 per cent in those who had Pfizer.

Hospitalisation

Protection against hospitalisation falls from 95 per cent to 75 per cent for AZ and 99 per cent to 90 per cent for Pfizer between three and six months after the second dose.

Professor Wei Shen Lim, chair of Covid-19 immunisation for the JCVI, said: “Whilst we don’t yet have data on protection against hospitalisation and unfortunately people dying from Covid-19, we can expect protection to be even higher than that figure of 93 per cent because that’s what happened so far in the vaccine programme.”

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You might be forced to wear a mask to the pub this Christmas as Omicron variant threatens tougher restrictions

CUSTOMERS heading to the pub for a festive pint with friends may be forced to wear a mask - amid fears over a new mutant super-strain of Covid.

Boris Johnson announced face coverings must be worn in shops and on public transport during a surprise press conference on Saturday evening.

3Top experts say masks should be worn in restaurants, bars and pubsCredit: Getty 3Boris Johnson has already ordered Brits to cover their noses and mouths on public transport and in shopsCredit: Getty

Kids in Years 7 and above must also wear them in communal areas at school too.

But experts are saying it's now time to go further and bring back masks in hospitality venues like pubs, bars and restaurants too.

It comes as nine cases of variant Omicron are confirmed in the UK, with hundreds more believed to come.

One person infected in Essex reportedly visited a KFC and school before falling ill.

Six cases in Scotland have been confirmed this morning.

Officials are desperately scrambling to stop the spread of the mutation, which is feared to be more transmissible than Delta. There are also concerns it could make jabs less effective.

Professor Sir Mark Walport, a member of the Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), told Sky News there's "good cause to be concerned".

???? Read our Omicron variant live blog for the latest news

Warning that it will be "impossible" to stop the spread, he said the most important action Brits can take is to get the jab and wear a mask.

"If you are in a small, poorly ventilated enclosed space, it makes sense to wear a mask," he said.

"Clearly when you are drinking and eating it's not possible to do that but if you're moving around, then absolutely.

"We know that infection happens in closed spaces indoors and of course, as it gets colder, people are more likely to be indoors and they're less likely to have the windows open.

"So if you're going to wear masks in shops, it makes sense to wear them in other places as well."

Good Morning Britain medic Dr Amir Khan said those heading out to Christmas parties should be double-jabbed.

Arguing he wants the PM's new restrictions to "go further", he said: "In terms of Christmas parties, the sensible thing is to make sure everyone is double-vaccinated.

It comes as:

  • A couple fleeing an Omicron quarantine hotel in Holland are arrested after flying in from South Africa
  • A minister says restrictions are unlikely to be tightened further over the next three weeks
  • An expert has warned that PCR costs could spiral under the Government's new Covid rules
  • Parents fear the new mutation will cause 'chaos' in schools
  • A rugby match at Twickenham 'may have been a super-spreader event'

"Do a lateral flow test if you don't have symptoms, stay away if you do, and make sure venues are well-ventilated."

And Professor Greg Towers of University College London, said failing to wear a mask could push us into lockdowns in the future.

He told Times Radio: "If we don't wear masks, and if we ignore social distancing rules, and if we just pretend it's all over, then what's going to happen is we'll get another big wave of infection, and we'll get put into lockdown again.

"If we don't want lockdown we've got to try and stop the spread by easier means like mask-wearing and social distancing."

Health minister Edward Argar said this morning the Government is not currently moving into 'plan B' restrictions.

And he defended the decision not to insist on masks in eateries and pubs, telling BBC Breakfast: "It's partly in the nature of pubs and restaurants and hospitality venues where people are eating, drinking.

"They may go to a bar to order a drink, but will often then sip the drink on their way back to their table where they will be seated. It's about striking a proportionate balance."

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The JCVI is mulling plans to offer millions more Brits booster jabs under emergency measures to slow the spread of Omicron.

A decision on expanding the programme and cutting the gap before a third dose is expected as early as today.

The group's deputy chairman Professor Anthony Harnden said extending the age range for boosters and reducing the gap between second and third doses was "a sensible strategy".

3It comes as nine cases of the worrying Omicron mutation are found in the UK Edward Argar says he doesn't anticipate Covid restrictions being tightened in the next three weeks

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