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Vaccine Rollout Extended To Over 70s In England

Boris Johnson visits Chase Farm Hospital as staff are vaccinated.
Emily Preston

This week, the government announced that its Covid-19 Vaccine program would be extended to include the over 70s in England but reports suggest that, in some areas, vaccines are still yet to be rolled out to those in older age categories.

The government has announced that 200 vaccines are being delivered every minute

Health secretary Matt Hancock, stated today that nearly two million people received the vaccine last week. This has brought the figure up of those who have now received the initial vaccine to 4.61 million. 

This is a huge increase from the figure of 2.64 million in the previous week.

The government has announced that 200 vaccines are being delivered every minute as many over 70s are now being invited to go for their initial jab.

This comes after talks last week of opening 24 hour vaccine sites, however these sites are yet to open.

The government is aiming to offer the vaccine to all of the extremely clinically vulnerable, the over 70s and health care workers, regardless of age, by mid-February.

However, with new evidence emerging that spacing out the doses improves its effectiveness, the delivery of the second shots of the vaccine may be delayed.

Public Health England’s head of immunisation, Mary Ramsay, told the Commons Science Committee that “If we’re seeing very high levels of protection, for example in the vulnerable groups, it may be more important to get more younger people vaccinated.”

The government has now entered the new stage of vaccinating the over 70s in many areas and Johnson called this a “significant milestone” in the nations fight against Covid-19. He stated that more than half of the over-80s had now received their first dose, along with half of the people in care homes.

However, some areas, notably in the South East, are lagging behind much of the country in vaccinating the over 80s. This comes as the vaccine supply for certain areas remans precarious.

Wales have also lagged behind the rest of the UK with only 175,816 people having received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford defended this slow rollout as he came under fire, arguing that Wales remained “on track” to achieve their target of vaccinating all top four priority groups by mid-February.

Scotland was behind England’s ratfe also, with only 334,871 people in Scotland having received their first dose; yet Sturgeon has managed to vaccinate 80% of care home residents.

NHS workers have also now began receiving their first doses, as it was reported by the British Medical Association earlier this month that more than 46,000 hospital staff were off sick with COVID-19.

With the UK now becoming the country with the worst daily death rate, the vaccine provides a way out

Nonetheless, despite the increasing number of groups of people being invited for their first dose, Johnson cautions that the rollout of jabs would not lead to a quick easing of rules. He said this would result In an “open sesame” relaxation of restrictions. This comes after the UK hit a record number of 3.4 million people testing positive for coronavirus since the pandemic began.

With the UK now becoming the country with the worst daily death rate, the vaccine provides a way out, yet it is still early days for the future of Britain in its struggle to end Covid-19.

Emily Preston

Featured image courtesy of Number 10 on Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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