Boris Johnson today branded anti-vaxxers “nuts” as he rolled out a mass flu vaccination this winter.
Speaking on a visit to a health centre, the Prime Minister slammed people who refuse to get themselves or loved ones vaccinated due to false claims and conspiracy theories.
He told staff at the Tollgate Medical Centre in Beckton, East London: “The MMR and the BCG and all that jazz… there’s all these anti-vaxxers now, isn’t? They are nuts, they are nuts.”
It came as the government rolled out what it claimed will be the most comprehensive flu vaccine programme in UK history.
Millions more people will be eligible for a free vaccine as those aged 50 to 64 are invited “later in the season” to get a jab.
A free flu vaccine will also be offered to:
Mr Johnson said priority would be given “first of all” to the above groups before moving to those aged 50 to 64.
In total the government said there would be 30 million vaccines through the flu season – but not all people in the country will get theirs for free.
The flu vaccine does not prevent coronavirus and there is not yet a viable coronavirus vaccine.
But having more people vaccinated against flu would lessen the strain on the NHS if there is a second wave.
Mr Johnson said: “The reason we’re doing this is to protect the NHS in the winter months.”
He added: “I just urge everybody in those groups to do it. It is something that you can do to protect yourself against flu.
“But it’s also something we can all do to protect the NHS.”
Mr Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock have repeatedly attacked anti-vaxxers and called on social media giants to do more to tackle misinformation.
Mr Hancock said last year there is a “very strong argument” for making vaccinations compulsory to stop a “worrying” rise in measles cases.
MMR vaccine rates fell in England for the fifth year in a row last year, from 91.2% of children to 90.3%.
Meanwhile measles cases rose 300% globally in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018.