The time between first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be reduced to eight weeks for all people under the age of 40, the Prime Minister has announced.
In a press briefing this afternoon Boris Johnson confirmed the interval would be reduced from the current 12 weeks for all adults ‘so that everyone over 18 should be double-jabbed by the middle of September’.
Laying out his plans ahead of next week’s decision on whether to lift Covid restrictions on 19 July, the Prime Minister said: ‘Without pre-empting the decision on the 12 July, let me set out today our five-point plan for living with Covid, in the hope that it will give families and businesses time to prepare.
‘First we will reinforce our vaccine war, reducing the dose interval for under-40s from 12 weeks to eight so that everyone over 18 should be double-jabbed by the middle of September – in addition to our autumn programme of booster vaccines for the most vulnerable.’
He also went on to confirm the plan to end the legal requirement for patients to wear face masks in GP practices or any other setting.
But while the legal requirement for wearing a mask is set to be removed from 19 July, ‘guidance will suggest where you might choose to do so’, added the Prime Minister.
In an accompanying statement to the House of Commons, the health secretary noted 86% of UK adults have had at least one Covid jab, and 64% have had two doses so far.
He acknowledged the ongoing increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases, adding: ‘We can reasonably expect that, by the 19th of July, the number of daily cases to be far higher than today.’
Sajid Javid said he understood people will be ‘understandably cautious’ about easing restrictions.
However, he said: ‘But we can now protect the NHS without having to go to the extraordinary lengths we’ve needed to in the past.’
Mr Javid said ‘the risk of a dangerous new variant that evades vaccines remains real’, but added ‘we cannot put our lives on hold forever’.
Last month second Covid vaccine doses were brought forward for people in their 40s as part of measures to combat the Delta variant, cutting the interval from 12 to eight weeks.
This was after the measure was first introduced for all at-risk patients in the top nine priority groups in May.
Last month Mr Johnson revealed the Government had set a new target for all at-risk groups and the over-40s to have received their second Covid vaccine dose by 19 July – brought forward two weeks from 31 July.
The Government had originally hoped to lift Covid restrictions by 21 June, but delayed the decision by a month.