BORIS Johnson will unveil his Winter Plan to avoid a Christmas lockdown tomorrow — with booster jabs for the over-50s at its core.
The Sun can reveal third doses are to be rolled out in a similar way to the first vaccine drive, starting with the most elderly and vulnerable.
As the vaccines are taken up they will then be offered to younger and younger age groups.
The PM is pinning his hopes on avoiding widespread disruption this winter with top-up jabs and a massive flu shot blitz backed by a giant ad campaign urging people to get the double protection.
If that does not work and the NHS starts coming under too much pressure, vaccine passports, more indoor masks and interventions such as working from home will have to return.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also suggested to Times Radio yesterday that ministers were considering giving children just one shot of the vaccine as part of a rollout to 12 to 15-year-olds.
But he promised everything will be done to avoid another shutdown of the economy.
He also revealed that ministers have bowed to Tory pressure and ditched a plan for vaccine passports for clubs and stadiums at the end of this month.
Mr Johnson had vowed to make jabs compulsory for big venues from the end of September, but climbed down after a major backlash from his own party.
Opinion in Westminster was split over whether Mr Johnson was simply using the passports as a threat to get more people to take up the vaccine — or whether he had been warned he may not have the votes to pass them into law.
In a morning of mixed messages, the Health Secretary first said no final decision had been made on Covid passports for clubbers — before confirming they would not go ahead just one hour later.
Half an hour after that, Mr Javid said they would be kept under review, adding: “What I can say is that we’ve looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
A lot of these powers can go and we should dispose of them, but some of them are necessary to keep, such as requiring people to self-isolate if they test positive
He also confirmed that some measures — such as the ability to shut workplaces and schools — will be stripped from Covid Emergency laws, but others will be rolled over for another six months.
He told the BBC: “A lot of these powers can go and we should dispose of them, but some of them are necessary to keep, such as requiring people to self-isolate if they test positive — we will keep that power.”
Mr Johnson will unveil the package at a press conference tomorrow before trying to shoehorn his new health tax through the Commons the same day.
There is also mounting speculation he will reshuffle his Cabinet as soon as Wednesday, before the Commons rises for the annual party conference season and Mr Johnson heads away on international travel.
Last night the U-turn on vaccine passports for venues was welcomed by the hospitality industry.
The co-founder of Parklife Festival, Sacha Lord, who is also night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: “The plans were untenable and illogical and there were multiple factors which would have been discriminatory and legally questionable.
Today’s announcement is not something to celebrate, it’s merely common sense returning and I thank all those that campaigned against them.
Adam Brooks, pub landlord
“As a sector, we can now move forward, without hesitation or vague regulations.”
Adam Brooks, landlord of the Three Colts pub in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, told The Sun: “Since Boris threatened vaccine passports I have hardly slept with worry — worry over my industry.
“It’s businesses and it’s jobs. I was fearful for my kids and the possibility of an authoritarian future.
“Today’s announcement is not something to celebrate, it’s merely common sense returning and I thank all those that campaigned against them.”
But asked whether ministers were removing too many measures designed to keep the public safe, he said the Government should not be introducing coronavirus rules “just for the sake of it”.