The next phase of the UK’s Covid-19 vaccination programme will launch later this week, the Government has announced, with patients in their ‘late 40s’ the next cohort expected to receive their invitation in England.
The announcement was followed by an alert by the NHS Twitter account which said those aged 45 and over could now book jabs via the central booking website. Pulse understands updated advice for GP sites should follow later today.
All adults over 50, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers – who made up JCVI priority cohorts 1-9, have all been offered a first dose of the Covid vaccine, three days ahead of the 15 April deadline, the Government said.
The independent vaccine advisory group JCVI will now make its recommendations for how to organise the next phase of the programme, which will include healthy adults aged 18-49.
The Government said this next phase will begin his week, with people in their late 40s ‘expected’ to be invited first in England. The devolved administrations will independently decide how to organise their programmes.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘We have now passed another hugely significant milestone in our vaccine programme by offering jabs to everyone in the nine highest risk groups.
‘That means more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid 19.’
‘I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine rollout which has already saved many thousands of lives.
‘We will now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.’
Health and social care Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I’m delighted the team have done such an amazing job to hit yet another target early.
‘The tide of this pandemic is turning in every part of the UK, as every day more and more people are being given the safety of a Covid-19 vaccine.’
However, the news comes as NHS England has told GP-led sites that they will receive no new first-dose vaccine deliveries either this week or next, amid supply issues from the manufacturers.
It had stressed that GPs should use existing supplies to continue giving first doses to patients in the first nine priority cohorts, and that deliveries would continue to ensure second doses could be administered
The first Moderna vaccine doses will be delivered in England on Tuesday, after Wales and Scotland started the UK rollout last week. The Government has not unveiled how many doses of the new vaccine it has received to date, although it has ordered 17 million doses overall.
It also comes as the MHRA has recommended that all adults under 30 receive an alternative vaccine to AstraZeneca, amid reports of extremely rate blood clotting events.
But Mr Hancock added: ‘Vaccines are safe and effective and have already saved more than 10,000 lives. The vaccine programme has had a significant impact on reducing the pressure on hospitals, helping us to gradually ease restrictions.
‘I urge everybody eligible to come forward for their vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones.’