BORIS Johnson has called on scientists to speed up the booster vaccine rollout to under-40s amid growing fears of the new Omicron Covid strain.
Mr Johnson asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to consider reducing the wait for a booster vaccine from six months to five months.
He also wants experts to explore the possibility of extending the offer of a third shot to 18 to 39-year-olds.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, ministers are also keen for the booster to be rolled out to everyone over 18.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said the JCVI will need to decide whether to extend the booster vaccine down to those aged 18 and over.
They will look at whether 12 to 15-year-olds can now be offered their second doses.
Prof Whitty said: "It's pretty clear if we are vaccinated, and in particular get the booster, we will be in a stronger overall position."
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Mr Johnson also stressed it was more vital than ever to get your jabs — and a booster when it is your turn.
He said: "We don't yet exactly know how effective our vaccines will be against Omicron , but we have good reasons for believing they will provide at least some measure of protection.
"And if you are boosted your response is likely to be stronger.
"So it's more vital than ever that people get their jabs, and we get those boosters into arms as fast as possible. So from today, we're going to boost the booster campaign."
Last week, Brits in England aged between 40 and 49 became eligible for their booster shot with almost 17 million people already fully jabbed.
Mr Johnson stressed that the action on borders, masks and isolation was precautionary ahead of the December 18 review.
He added: "At that point we should have much greater information about the continuing effectiveness of vaccines.
"I very much hope that we will find that we continue to be in a strong position, and we can lift these measures again.
"But right now this is the responsible course of action, to slow down this new variant, and to maximise our defences, so we protect the gains we have worked so hard for and so that we can continue to save lives."
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Meanwhile, mask-wearing returned last night in a bid to save Christmas from the Omicron variant.
So far, only two cases of the super-strain have been reported in the UK.
Mask-wearing will be again compulsory in shops and buses, trains and taxis in England from tomorrow.
Overseas travel and self-isolation rules have been tightened after the first two cases of the super-strain were detected in Britain.
Omicron — discovered only days ago in southern Africa — has been declared the worst variant yet by one expert, while there are fears it might reduce vaccine protection over time.
The PM's measures, outlined at a Downing Street briefing, aim to slow down its spread until scientists know just how dangerous it is.
But Mr Johnson stopped short of imposing a devastating shutdown of pubs and restaurants in the run-up to Christmas.
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