Health services across the UK have now administered a total of 57.8 million vaccines between 8 December and 18 May, including 36.9 million people with their first dose (70.2%) and 20.8 million with both doses (39.6%), ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 from a second dose.
The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by 15 April and remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England will be sending texts inviting people to book a vaccination to those aged 37 and 36.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:”
Vaccines are turning the tide against this pandemic and I’m incredibly proud the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, with 90% of people saying that they have had or will have the jab.
Strong evidence shows the vaccines protect you and your loved ones from serious illness and they also reduce transmission, which is why we’ve introduced additional surge measures in the areas with rising cases of the variant first identified in India.
Thank you to everybody who has come forward so far – we can beat this virus together if we all play our part and get the jab as soon as we’re eligible.”
To ensure people have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19, appointments for second doses have been brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for the remaining people in the top 9 priority groups who have yet to receive both doses.
The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval to counter the threat of new variants of concern.
The government and its scientific experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, and will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:”
This is a terrific achievement and is testament to the dedication of NHS workers, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants in every corner of the UK.
We are doubling down on efforts to offer over-50s and the most vulnerable a second dose to maximise their protection against COVID-19, while continuing to progress first doses for people aged 36 and over.
I urge everybody of all races, religions and genders to come forward for a jab as soon as you’re eligible.”
NHS England’s lead for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Dr Emily Lawson, said:”
The fastest and most successful NHS vaccination programme in history continues to roll out at speed thanks to NHS staff and volunteers, with 7 in 10 adults receiving their life-saving jab and 2 in 5 receiving both doses.
Bookings are booming with over a million appointments made in less than a week since the NHS vaccination programme opened up to people in their 30s – people aged 36 and 37 can now book their jab.
Our message remains clear: when you are invited for your jab please attend – this could save your life and the people around you.”
Vaccinated people are far less likely to get COVID-19 with symptoms. Vaccinated people are even more unlikely to get serious COVID-19, to be admitted to hospital, or to die from it. There is growing evidence that vaccinated people are less likely to pass the virus to others.
Data from Public Health England’s (PHE’s) real-world study shows the vaccines are already having a significant impact in the UK, reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving more than 11,700 lives and preventing 33,000 hospitalisations in England by the end of April.
New PHE analysis shows that individuals who receive a single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 80% lower risk of death with COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated individuals. The report also shows protection against death from the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine rises from approximately 80% after 1 dose to 97% after 2 doses.
Data published by YouGov shows the UK continues to top the list of nations where people are willing to have a COVID-19 vaccine or have already been vaccinated.
ONS data published on 6 May found that more than 9 in 10 (93%) adults reported positive sentiment towards the vaccine.
Approved vaccines are available from thousands of NHS vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England and vaccinations are taking place at sites including mosques, community centres and football stadiums.