- Move allows the NHS to further accelerate vaccinations of people most at risk
- Priority remains to vaccinate top 2 cohorts first, while over 3.8 million people have received their first vaccine dose in the UK
Millions of people aged 70 and over and those clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will be invited to get their vaccinations from today (Monday 18 January) as the NHS begins roll out of the vaccines to the next 2 priority groups.
The NHS has so far been working to vaccinate the first 2 priority cohorts recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which are care home residents and staff, and those aged 80 and over and frontline health and care staff.
Vaccinating the first 2 groups will remain the priority, but vaccination sites which have enough supply and capacity for vaccinating further people are allowed to offer vaccinations to the next 2 cohorts – those aged 70 and over and clinically extremely vulnerable people.
This will allow areas that have already vaccinated the majority of care home residents, frontline health and care staff and people aged 80 and over to keep up the momentum and start vaccinating further at-risk people, helping the NHS to reach the Prime Minister’s commitment of offering vaccinations to the first 4 priority groups by the middle of February.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
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 are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort.
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.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
Now that more than half of all over-80s have had their jab, we can begin vaccinating the next most vulnerable groups. Where an area has already reached the vast majority of groups 1 to 2, they can now start opening up the programme to groups 3 to 4.
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.
This measure does not mean our focus on getting care homes, healthcare staff and those aged 80 and over vaccinated is wavering – it will remain our utmost priority over the coming weeks to reach the rest of these groups.
The guidance from the government and the NHS to local vaccination services remains that they should still offer the vaccine to each of the priority groups in the order set out by the JCVI.