MILLIONS of Brits are to get their Covid booster early after the health minister told NHS bosses to fix the stuttering rollout, government sources has revealed.
Sajid Javid ordered health chiefs to allow over-50s to book in their third vaccine a month earlier than planned to speed up the vaccination programme amid growing fears of a winter lockdown.
Government sources told the Daily Mail that the new plan will be put into effect as soon as possible.
The updated booking system will allow Brits to book in advance so they can secure the booster as soon as the first day they are eligible.
People can get the third jab six months after receiving their second dose.
But as the current system stands, people have to wait until that date until they can book their vaccine.
On average, Brits have been waiting 18 days to get their booster jab and it is this reason that why only 4.5million out of the 9.3million eligible people have gotten their booster.
Ministers also reportedly examined if the six-month period between the second dose and booster should be shortened but concluded that it was still the "sweet spot".
It comes after SAGE scientists warned of a Christmas lockdown.
Professor Peter Openshaw, a member of Nervtag and SAGE subgroup CO-CIN, said that the current death rates are "unacceptable" and people need to act now.
A joint statement from unions including the TUC, Usdaw, Unison, Unite, the GMB and Aslef representing three million workers have also demanded the Government bring in policies including the return of home-working and mandatory face masks.
The unions say there are already "hundreds" of outbreaks in workplaces as the national case and death toll continues to rise.
Professor Openshaw, of Imperial College London, told BBC Breakfast: "I'm very fearful that we're going to have another lockdown Christmas if we don't act soon.
"We know that with public health measures the time to act is immediately. There's no point in delaying.
"We all really, really want a wonderful family Christmas where we can all get back together.
"If that's what we want, we need to get these measures in place now in order to get transmission rates right down so that we can actually get together and see one another over Christmas."
Meanwhile, an urgent document detailing Winter Plan B proposals - such as jab passports and face mask-wearing - was distributed on Friday.
The leaked e-mail, marked Official Sensitive, was sent from the UK Health Security Agency to town hall leaders and directors of public health the previous day.
An official wrote: “I have been asked to canvas opinion on the level of support for the immediate roll-out of the Winter Plan - Plan B.”
It lists a “menu of measures” including introducing vaccine passports in nightclubs, crowded indoor settings and outdoor venues with more than 10,000 attendees that could be brought in by Ministers.
There would also be the need for “legally mandating face coverings in certain settings” under plans being considered.
The message adds that the public would have to be told “clearly and urgently” that the risk level had increased with “the need to behave more cautiously”.
This would include measures such as working from home.
Yesterday, covid cases rose to almost 45,000 in the highest Saturday jump in 14 weeks.
A further 44,985 people tested positive for the disease - bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 8,734,934.
The UK also recorded 135 deaths with the total number of Covid victims now at 139,461.