The UK prepared for the next phase of its coronavirus vaccination program on Sunday as it neared its goal of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people.
The country will begin giving vaccines to people aged 65 to 69 and to those clinically susceptible to Covid-19 starting Monday. Almost 1.2 million people are already invited to book their vaccinations, the state’s National Health Service (NHS) said.
The move comes after the government achieved its goal of offering vaccinations to the top four priority groups of around 15 million people by the end of this week.
This includes everyone over the age of 70, residents and employees of nursing homes, NHS workers, and the extremely clinically susceptible viruses.
The government said more than 14.5 million received a first dose on Saturday.
And Foreign Minister Dominic Raab said it was “on track” to hit the “important milestone,” and officials could now focus on vaccinating all over 50s by May and all adults by September.
“(It is) the first milestone towards a broader plan to vaccinate 99 percent of the dying (of Covid-19) with a first dose by the end of April, and then everyone in the country … by the fall,” he said Sky News.
The UK, which has been hardest hit by the pandemic in Europe and recorded nearly 117,000 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, launched its largest vaccination campaign to date in early December.
It now has one of the highest proportions in the world of people vaccinated against the virus.
Meanwhile, infection rates have plummeted across the country in recent weeks as strict lockdown measures have curbed previously soaring case numbers, hospital stays and deaths.
The improving situation has resulted in the need to lift strict waiver restrictions in early March, despite concerns about the spread of virus variants that may be more resistant to vaccines.
A new 10-day hotel quarantine regime for UK residents returning from 33 hotspots with virus variants begins Monday, despite criticism that the move is too little and too late.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Saturday he was “optimistic” that he will be able to make plans for a “cautious” relaxation of the home stay rules in England later this month.
He has vowed to review all relevant data next week before setting the government’s “roadmap” for the coming months on February 22nd.
But he is being pressured by some government lawmakers.
Lockdown-skeptical Conservatives have urged Johnson to commit to a schedule for the full end of controls by May.
In a letter to the UK Prime Minister, the leaders of the Covid Recovery Group told Tory MPs that the “rapid pace” of the vaccination rollout allowed the move.
“The vaccine gives us immunity to Covid, but it must also give us permanent immunity to Covid-related bans and restrictions,” they wrote.
“Any restrictions remaining after March 8th should be proportionate to the ever-increasing number of people we have protected.”
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)