One in six adults in the UK are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19, with more than 2m second doses delivered in the past seven days, latest official figures show.
More than 8.9m people have now received both doses of a Covid vaccine — equivalent to around 17 per cent of Britain’s adult population. A further 23.6m people have been given their first injection.
The government will prioritise providing second jabs to people who have already received a first dose over the next few months, after delivery issues promised to disrupt vaccine supplies in the coming weeks.
Second doses of coronavirus vaccines must follow within 12 weeks of the first, meaning millions of people who received their initial jab in January and February have recently had a follow-up dose or are due to receive a second jab over the next few weeks.
Over-45s were invited to book their Covid jabs earlier this week after the government reached its target of offering a first dose to the nine most vulnerable groups, including everybody over the age of 50.
Ministers had promised to offer a first jab to to all over-50s, the clinically vulnerable and health and social care workers by 15 April.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed “another hugely significant milestone” in the UK’s vaccine rollout, adding that he was confident the government will meet its target to offer a first dose to all adults in Britain by 31 July.
Men, the severely overweight, high-risk workers and ethnic minorities will also be targeted in the next phase of the vaccine rollout, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said earlier this week.
The JCVI said the NHS should proactively encourage take-up of the jab in these groups due to their heightened risk from Covid.
The government last month launched a new publicity campaign to boost vaccine uptake amongst minority groups, after figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that people of black African origin are five and a half times more likely not to have received a first injection compared to white British.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced on Wednesday it will launch a five-week consultation on plans to make vaccines compulsory for care home staff amid concerns that low uptake could put residents at risk.
Experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said at least 80 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents in elderly care homes must be vaccinated to provide a minimum level of protection against outbreaks.
Currently, only 53 per cent of older adult care homes in England have achieved this threshold. DHSC warned the figure could leave up to 150,000 residents in care homes at increased risk of catching coronavirus.