People aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable will begin receiving invitations for coronavirus vaccinations from Monday, the government has announced.
Boris Johnson said “huge progress” was being made but warned there was still “a long way to go”.
More than 3.8 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine.
Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, said on Sunday the “target” was for every adult in the UK will be offered a first dose by September.
The vaccination programme is working its way down through nine priority groups as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Here are the JCVI’s nine priority groups for phase one of the vaccine rollout, as of December 30:
1. Elderly care home residents and their carers.
2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers.
3. All those 75 years of age and over.
4. All those 70 years of age and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
5. All those 65 years of age and over.
6. Everyone aged between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
7. All those 60 years of age and over.
8. All those 55 years of age and over.
9. All those 50 years of age and over.
The prime minister has set a target of delivering two million jabs a week, in order to cover the most vulnerable 14 million people in the top four groups by February 15.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has revealed that more than half of all over-80s have now had a jab.
“We are working day and night to make sure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by the middle of February and our NHS heroes are making huge strides in making this happen,” he said.
“Where an area has already reached the vast majority of groups one and two they can now start opening up the programme to groups three and four.”
NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said the health service was conducting 140 jabs a minute.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the NHS was “vaccinating four times faster than people are newly catching coronavirus”.
Stevens said some hospitals would also start delivering jabs 24 hours a day seven days a week on a trial basis over the next 10 days.
But he warned while the vaccine rollout was proceeding well, the NHS was under huge pressure.
“Since Christmas Day we’ve seen another 15,000 increase in the in-patients in hospitals across England, that’s the equivalent of filling 30 hospitals full of coronavirus patients,” he said.
“Staggeringly, every thirty seconds across England another patient is being admitted to hospital with coronavirus.”
Johnson said on Monday: “Today is a significant milestone in our vaccination programme as we open it up to millions more people who are most at risk from Covid 19.
“We have a long way to go and there will doubtless be challenges ahead— but by working together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus.”