More than 4 million people receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in UK

More than 4 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the largest vaccination programme in British history.

The NHS vaccinated a total of 4.06 million people between 8 December and 17 January, including more than half of those aged 80 and over and more than half of elderly care home residents.

This is more than double the number of vaccinations, per person per day, than any European country and is a significant step towards hitting the Prime Minister’s target of offering vaccines to the top 4 priority groups by the middle of February.

This group of around 15 million people accounts for 88% of COVID deaths, so vaccines will play a crucial role to saving lives and protecting the NHS.

Speaking at today’s Downing Street press conference (18 January 2021), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:

This is the biggest medical deployment in British history and it’s one of the biggest civilian operations that this country’s ever undertaken.

We’re on track to deliver our plan to vaccinate the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, the groups that account for 88% of COVID deaths.

Our approach is, of course, to save as many lives as possible – as quickly as possible and to reduce the pressure on the NHS.

Letters have been sent to those aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable today in England inviting them to get their vaccinations as the NHS begins roll out 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 first 2 groups to keep up the momentum and protect more people.

In some parts of the country, like Gloucestershire, more than 4 in 5 of people aged 80 and over received the first dose. In Slough, every elderly care home resident has already been vaccinated.

The vaccination programme continues to expand, with 10 large-scale vaccination centres coming on stream in England today.

The government is also urging people to play their part in the historic programme by:

helping out: help those aged 80 and over by supporting friends, family and loved ones with their appointments, as well as volunteering to help those in the community
joining up: sign up to clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments
staying informed: keep up to date with accurate and trusted NHS advice and make sure to share facts with friends and family

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