Prime Minister Boris Johnson today addressed the nation from Downing Street and praised the “unprecedented national achievement” of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the UK ahead of the planned deadline. However, Mr Johnson said now is “no moment to relax” ahead of his roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions, which is due to be unveiled on Monday, February 22.
The Prime Minister said there were still more hospital patients with Covid-19 than at the peak of the first wave and admissions were running at 1,600 a day across the UK.
He told the Downing Street press conference: “We have to keep our foot to the floor.”
Now the next million invitation letters will be issued, offering appointments for a vaccine to the over-65s and those aged 16 to 64 with underlying conditions, as well as adult carers.
Mr Johnson said: “If we can keep this pace up and if we can keep supply steady – and I hope and believe we can – then we hope to offer a vaccination to everyone in the first nine priority groups, including everyone over 50, by the end of April.”
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NHS England has already sent out 1.2 million invitations to the over-65s to book an appointment, with a similar number expected to go out this week.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive, said the end of April target to vaccinate the estimated 17 million people in the next five groups has been set due to “likely vaccine supply”.
However, he added “if supply increases then we think we can go faster”.
He also confirmed vaccines are being reserved for second booster doses.
Now, the vaccine will now be rolled out across the next five priority groups:
5. People aged 65 to 69 – 2.9 million people
6. People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and death – deemed as “clinically vulnerable” – 7.3 million people
7. People aged 60 to 64 – 1.8 million people
8. People aged 55 to 59 – 2.4 million people
9. People aged 50 to 54 – 2.8 million people
So what are at-risk groups?
At-risk or clinically vulnerable groups include several types of medical conditions and disabilities.
This includes those who:
- have a severe lung condition (such as severe asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis). Severe asthma is defined as those who require continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission.
- have heart disease (such as heart failure)
- have diabetes
- have chronic kidney disease (such as kidney failure)
- have chronic liver disease (such as hepatitis)