More than 38 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine – part of the biggest inoculation programme the country has ever launched.
With the aim of offering vaccines to as many adults as possible by summer, the government says the continued success of the vaccine programme is one of the four conditions needed for further easing of restrictions.
Who can get a vaccine now?
First vaccines are now being offered to people below the age of 40. Those aged 32 and above in England, over-18s in most areas of Wales, over-25s in Northern Ireland and those aged 30 and above in Scotland are all being invited to book appointments.
The rollout has expanded after the UK government hit its target of offering a first jab to everyone in the top priority groups – all those over the age of 50, plus those in high-risk categories – before 15 April. These groups account for 99% of coronavirus deaths so far.
The government plans to vaccinate the rest of the adult population in age order, another 21 million people, by the end of July.
So far, more than 38 million people have had a first vaccine dose – about 70% of the adult population – and almost 23 million have had a second.
The number of first doses administered each day is now averaging around 195,000 – a drop from an average of about 500,000 in mid-March – as the schedule of second doses kicks in.
An average of about 370,000 second doses are now being given a day.
Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the delivery of second doses to the over 50s in England will be accelerated, in response to the emergence of the Indian variant of the virus in the UK.
The UK has three vaccines approved for use: Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna; all of which require two doses for maximum protection.
The campaign to reach as many people as quickly as possible was boosted by a shift in policy in early January – to prioritise the first dose of a vaccine, with a second dose up to 12 weeks later, a bigger gap than originally planned.
Progress made in the UK so far means the country continues to be among those with the highest vaccination rates globally.
People aged under 40 are to be offered an alternative to the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine due to evidence linking it to rare blood clots.
Public Health England has estimated that 11,700 deaths have been averted in people aged 60 years or older in England up to 25 April 2021, as a direct effect of being vaccinated.
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Has the rollout been even across all areas?
Across the country, there continues to be some variation in the vaccine programme.
Scotland has vaccinated 92% of those aged 40 and over with at least one dose, while Northern Ireland and Wales have reached 89%.
England, on average, has vaccinated 91% of the same age group, with the South West reaching 94% and London 83%.
Where are the vaccines coming from?
The UK is now receiving doses of three vaccines approved by the medicine regulator.
The Pfizer-BioNTech jab – the first to be given the green light in December – is being imported from Puurs, Belgium.
A second vaccine, from Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is being made at a number of sites in Britain. Further doses are expected to come from the Serum Institute of India and the Halix plant in the Dutch city of Leiden.
The third, from Moderna, is coming from sites in Switzerland and Spain, via Belgium.
How will people be vaccinated?
People will be vaccinated in three main ways, at:
- Local GP practices and community pharmacies1
- Hospital hubs
- Major vaccination sites across the country
The government has urged the public to “play their part” in supporting “the largest vaccination programme in British history”, including helping people attend their appointments.