MORE than ten million people in the UK have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, marking a significant milestone for the largest vaccination programme in British history.
Figures out today (Wednesday) showed the NHS vaccinated a total of 10,021,471 million people between December 8 and February 2, including nine in ten people aged 75 and over in England.
This is equivalent to vaccinating the total capacity of 111 Wembley stadiums in just eight weeks and is an important step towards hitting the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s target of offering vaccines to the top four priority groups by the middle of February.
Those groups are: residents in a care home for older adults and their carers; all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers; all those 75 years of age and over; all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.
The top four groups account for 88% of COVID deaths, which is why the vaccines will play such a crucial role in saving lives and reducing the demand on the NHS.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This terrific achievement is testament to the monumental effort of NHS workers, volunteers and the armed forces who have been working tirelessly in every corner of the UK to deliver the largest vaccination programme in our history. Every jab makes us all a bit safer – I want to thank everyone for playing their part.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic. The unprecedented national effort we have seen right across the United Kingdom means the majority of our most vulnerable people are now inoculated against this awful disease.
“The UK government has worked rapidly to secure and deliver doses to all of the UK, demonstrating the strength of our union and what we can achieve together.
“Vaccines have been offered to all elderly care home residents and staff in England and Wales, with staff returning to homes where residents may have been unable to get a vaccine due to medical conditions, or because of a local outbreak.”
A study published in the Lancet today shows the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine provides a sustained protection of 76% during the 12-week interval between the first and second dose. It is also the first study to show the vaccine may substantially reduce transmission, suggesting those who have already been immunised with this vaccine cannot infect others.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “The UK’s vaccination programme is in full swing and almost one in six people across the UK are already protected from serious illness.
“The NHS is doing everything it can to protect the most vulnerable and will continue to expand the vaccination programme ever further in the coming weeks to save as many lives as possible.”