London, Dec 24: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday used his annual Christmas message to push the get boosted now message for protection against COVID-19, amid an ongoing surge in cases of the Omicron variant in the country.
In his video message, Johnson said a coronavirus booster jab would be a "wonderful" Christmas gift and also linked it to the teachings of Jesus Christ. He also struck a note of caution that after two years of the pandemic "we are still not through it because Omicron is surging .
Though the time for buying presents is theoretically running out, there is still a wonderful thing you can give your family and the whole country and that is to get that jab, whether it is your first or second, or your booster. So that next year's festivities are even better than this year's, said Johnson.
And I hope I can be forgiven for taking pride in the immense spirit of neighbourliness that the people of this country have shown. Getting jabbed not just for themselves, for ourselves, but for friends and family and everyone we meet. And that, after all, is the teaching of Jesus Christ, whose birth is at the heart of this enormous festival that we should love our neighbours as we love ourselves, he said.
And so let's think of all those who are being good neighbours and thinking of others. All those in the NHS working over Christmas, our care workers, everyone involved in the incredible vaccination campaign, he said.
The National Health Service (NHS) has said that many of its vaccination sites will be functioning through the Christmas holiday period to keep up the booster drive. NHS England said its "jingle jab" campaign will see COVID vaccines administered at local sites such as town halls and pharmacies throughout the weekend.
Opposition Labour Leader Keir Starmer struck a similar note of thanks for the frontline workers in his Christmas message, as he reflected upon families who have faced "unimaginable loss" this year due to the pandemic.
For too many, there will be one less chair at the table for the Christmas meal. But, in the darkest of times, Christian values of kindness, of compassion and hope have shone through," he said.
Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who has announced tougher lockdown restrictions in the region post-Christmas, stressed that this year is much more normal than the last due to the vaccinations.
Queen Elizabeth II's pre-recorded annual broadcast to the nation and the Commonwealth will air on Christmas Day on Saturday, with an image released by Buckingham Palace on Friday.
She is seen wearing a red dress and a brooch that she wore on her honeymoon in 1947, indicating a very personal Christmas message this year which marked the death of her husband Prince Philip in April. The message was recorded last week at Windsor Castle, where the 95-year-old monarch will spend Christmas with Prince Charles and wife Camilla.
The UK recorded 119,789 daily COVID infections on Thursday.