More than 15m people in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, a feat described by Boris Johnson as “extraordinary” and a “significant milestone” in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s all the more remarkable given it is just over two months since 91-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the jab.
Yet there is still much to be done. Here’s the latest on the vaccination rollout and what happens next...
How many people have been vaccinated so far?
On Sunday the government said 15m people in the UK had received their first dose, firmly on course to meet the target of offering a first dose to everyone in the UK in its top four priority groups – including all over-70s – by Monday.
Johnson said the had been delivered by “the most extraordinary army of vaccinators who have jabbed like there is no tomorrow”.
He added: “Doctors and nurses and retired healthcare workers, who have returned to the fray, and supported by organisers, volunteers, marshals, guided by the leadership of the NHS, and supported by the great strategic, logistical nous of the British army.”
“We have even delivered jabs in a fairground.”
According to health secretary Matt Hancock, 90% of over-70s had accepted the vaccine – a “much higher uptake than we could possibly have hoped for”.
But homeless people, migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and some people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are among those struggling to get a coronavirus jab even when they’re entitled to one.
When will they get their second dose?
The second dose of the jab can be delayed between four and 12 weeks. This means people receiving their jab today may be getting their second vaccine in May, PA Media reports.
It was also reported on Sunday that a single first shot of Covid-19 vaccine is providing 67% protection against infection after three weeks, according to data from the Zoe Covid Symptom Study App.
But as two shots are needed for the maximum protection, the rollout programme must keep up momentum in order to give second doses within 12 weeks.
Who will be offered jabs next?
The priority list set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is:
- care home residents and their carers
- people over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers
- people over the age of 75
- people over the age of 70 and those deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable”
- people over the age of 65
- people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death.
- people over the age of 60
- people over the age of 55
- people over the age of 50
In England, 1.2m invitations to people aged 65 to 69 have already been sent out to book an appointment, with a similar number expected to go out this week.
There are an estimated 6.3m clinically vulnerable people aged 16 to 65 who are also next in line along with over-65s as the vaccination programme moves into a new phase on Monday.
The government has announced that it plans for everyone in the top nine groups to be offered their first vaccine before May.
What about everyone else?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has not yet set out plans on who should be vaccinated beyond the top nine priority groups.
But health secretary Matt Hancock has pledged that all UK adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by autumn.
It is unknown whether keyworkers will be offered the jab as a priority.
The JCVI is currently discussing what the future plans should look like and expects to set out these recommendations by the end of the month.
What will this mean for the NHS?
The impact of the vaccination programme will not be immediately felt in the NHS.
But the health service should soon start to see some big reductions in hospital admissions.
It has been estimated that giving people in the top nine priority groups the jab will reduce deaths by up to 99%.
I’ve had my jab, does this mean I can mix with other people?
Not yet. We don’t know whether or not the vaccines stop people from transmitting the virus and questions have been raised about how protective they are against new variants.
It also takes time for the body to build up immunity after the jab – people are not protected straight away. It’s therefore important to get the second jab to get the full protection offered by the vaccine.
I’m over 70 and I haven’t been offered my jab yet, what should I do?
The NHS changed messaging from ‘wait until we contact you’ to ‘contact us’ to ask people to book their jab.
Over-70s can book through the website here or by calling 119.