Getting Covid booster follows ‘teaching of Jesus Christ’, says Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson has invoked the teaching of Jesus Christ to urge the public to get a Covid booster jab, in a message issued to mark a Christmas he said would be “significantly better” than last year’s.

In a video statement filmed in front of a Christmas tree in Downing Street, the prime minister celebrated members of the public who were “getting jabbed not just for themselves, for ourselves, but for friends and family and everyone we meet”.

“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.

His words echoed the message from the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who said earlier this week: “I would say, go and get boosted, get vaccinated. It’s how we love our neighbour. Loving our neighbour is what Jesus told us to do. It’s Christmas, do what he said.”

The prime minister said he could not say the pandemic was over, but pointed out that many people were able to celebrate with more family members this year than last.

“If this year you need a bigger turkey and there are more sprouts to peel and more washing up to do, then that is all to the good, because these rituals matter so deeply. And I hope that people will enjoy this Christmas this year all the more keenly because of what we had to miss last year,” he said.

There had been fears the government might impose limits on socialising over the festive period in a bid to slow the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, but ministers decided to wait and monitor the data.

In 2020, some parts of the country, including London, the home counties and the east of England, were placed under tier 4 restrictions just days before Christmas that meant a “stay at home” order was in place. Elsewhere, up to three households could gather, but only for a single day.

The NHS has accelerated the pace of booster vaccinations significantly since the arrival of Omicron, and in some parts of the country will continue to deliver jabs even on Christmas Day.

Johnson was baptised a Catholic but has rarely discussed his own religion. He married his wife, Carrie, at the Catholic Westminster Cathedral earlier this year. When ITV’s Robert Peston asked if he was a practising Catholic, Johnson replied: “I don’t discuss these deep issues.”

The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, used his Christmas message to mark the contribution of frontline workers, including soldiers and nurses, during what he called an “incredibly difficult” year.

“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. Communities have come together to help one another,” he said.

Looking forward to 2022, Starmer said: “If we stick together, support each other and work together, we can find a path through. I know a better future is possible.”

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