UK reaches 15m Covid jab milestone, eyes next vaccination phase
The United Kingdom’s government says it has met a target of offering at least a first coronavirus vaccine shot to the most vulnerable people in England by mid-February, reaching some 15 million people in four priority groups.
The vaccine programme is seen as one of few successes in the government’s handling of a pandemic that has left the country of about 67 million people with a higher death toll and worse economic damage than many others.
After becoming the first in the world to approve a vaccine, the British government set an ambitious February 15 target date to reach 15 million care home residents and staff, front-line health and care workers, all those aged 70 or above and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
“Today we have reached a significant milestone,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a video message posted on social media on Sunday.“
No one is resting on their laurels … We’ve still got a long way to go and there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road, but after all we’ve achieved, I know we can go forward with great confidence.”
Johnson said all the four priority groups had been reached in England but he did not speak for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, and did not say the overall target had been met. In some areas, those in lower priority groups have received jabs.
He will set out further progress on Monday. The country will now start administering vaccines from Monday to those aged between 65 and 69 and those clinically vulnerable to Covid-19, with almost 1.2 million already invited to book their jabs, the state-run National Health Service (NHS) said. Ministers have also pledged to vaccinate all above-50s by May and all adults by September.