More than 15 million people across the UK have now been given their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, with the achievement hailed as a ‘significant milestone’ in the fight against the disease.
Ministers have said they are “on track” to meet the target of offering a first dose to everyone in the UK in the top four priority groups, including all over 70s, by the 15 February deadline.
The passing of the 15 million vaccinations milestone paves the way for the next phase of the rollout, with the government aiming to get an offer of a vaccine in the next five priority groups by the end of April.
Who is included in the next phase?
The vaccine priority list is set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and includes nine categories.
Care home residents and their carers, plus people over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers, formed the top two priority groups.
This was followed by people aged 75 and over, and those deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable”.
Now that these top four groups have been offered their first dose, the vaccination programme moved into a new phase in England on Monday (15 February), which will cover the next five priority groups.
This includes the following:
- Group 5 - all those aged 65 and over
- Group 6 - adults aged 16 to 65 in an at-risk group
- Group 7 - all those aged 60 and over
- Group 8 - all those aged 55 and over
- Group 9 - all those aged 50 and over
NHS England has already sent out 1.2 million invitations to the over 65s to book an appointment for their vaccine, with a similar number expected to go out this week.
Carers will also be offered the chance to get their first Covid-19 jab as part of the next phase, joining those who are clinically vulnerable and people aged 65 to 69 as the next in line.
The sixth group includes all individuals aged 16 to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality, as well as those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.
Who is classed as clinically vulnerable?
People classed as clinically vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
You may fall into this category if your GP added you to the Shielded Patient list, or if you meet any of the following criteria:
- are 70 or older
- have a lung condition that's not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)
- have heart disease (such as heart failure)
- have diabetes
- have chronic kidney disease
- have liver disease (such as hepatitis)
- have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)
- have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections
- are taking medicine that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)
- are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)
- are pregnant
Adult carers of disabled people with any of these conditions, and younger adults in care homes, are also part of the clinically vulnerable group.
How to book your appointment
People who have received a letter inviting them for their vaccine can log on to the national booking service at nhs.uk and choose from more than 100 vaccination centres, or almost 200 pharmacy services.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
NHS England said five more large-scale vaccination centres will also open their doors from this week at Alderley Park Conference centre, Burnley Mall, Chester Racecourse, Preston St Johns and Westgate Chichester.