Boris Johnson has branded opponents of vaccines as ‘nuts’ as he predicted Britain will be ‘well on the way past’ coronavirus by the ‘middle of next year’.
The PM was speaking as the government announced an expansion of its winter flu vaccination programme with the aim of doubling the number of people who will get the jab to 30 million.
‘There’s all these anti-vaxxers now. They are nuts, they are nuts,’ he told nurses at GP surgery in London.
The vaccination programme is part of plans to protect the NHS from a ‘double whammy’ of seasonal flu and Covid-19 this winter.
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‘We want everybody to get a flu jab in the run-up to this winter and that’s why we’re rolling out the biggest-ever programme of flu immunisation,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘We’re aiming first of all for schoolchildren up to year 7, for pregnant women, for people over 65, for people who are shielded, but then we will be extending it to people who are 50 to 65.
‘Now the reason for doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months because obviously we have still got Covid, we have still got the threat of a second spike on Covid, and it’s vital therefore to keep that pressure off the NHS by everybody getting a flu jab and I really hope everybody will.’
The prime minister said he believes that Britain will be ‘well on the way past’ the outbreak by next summer, though he warned of tough times ahead.
He said the UK will have to continue with coronavirus prevention measures such as social distancing and wearing face masks until the spread of coronavirus is under control.
‘I must be clear with people, I do still think that we have tough times ahead in keeping this virus under control,’ he said.
‘We have tough times ahead in coming through economically.
‘But I’ve absolutely no doubt that we are going to and this country is going to bounce back stronger than ever before.’
Mr Johnson recently expressed hope of a ‘more significant return to normality’ by Christmas, though many scientists cast doubt on this amid the threat of a second wave.
From today, people are required by law to wear face coverings in shops, shopping centres, banks, takeaway outlets, post offices, sandwich shops and supermarkets.
Police can hand out £100 fines to people who break the new rules, but the College of Policing has said ‘should only be required as a last resort’. Some supermarkets have also said they won’t enforce the rule.
Asked today if he thinks it is a good idea for members of the public to be ‘shaming’ people who do not comply, the PM said: ‘I think we should rely on the massive common sense of the British people that have so far delivered the results that we’ve seen, and that’s going to work.’
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