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UK hits ‘significant milestone’ as 15 million people receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose

The NHS also announced that five additional large-scale vaccination centres will open this week

The UK’s vaccination programme has reached a ‘significant milestone’ as over 15 million people have now received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson labelled the milestone in the UK’s national vaccination programme as an ‘extraordinary feat’, adding however that there is ‘still a long way to go’.

The UK’s Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved its first vaccine, the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, in December 2020.

So far, the MHRA has approved three COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer/BioNTech’s mRNA-based vaccine, AstraZeneca(AZ)/Oxford University’s vaccine and most recently Moderna’s vaccine.

While people in the UK have already been receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech and AZ/Oxford vaccines, supplies of Moderna’s vaccine are not expected to be delivered until spring.

The UK government had been aiming to vaccinate approximately 15 million people by mid-February, with priority to be given to people over the age of 70 years, frontline healthcare workers, care home residents and staff and the ‘extremely’ clinically vulnerable.

Now that the UK has met this goal, the vaccination programme will be expanded to include people aged 65 and over as well as the clinically vulnerable.

According to the NHS, over one million people aged 65 and over have been invited to book a vaccination, while a further 1.2 million will be invited throughout the week.

“Hitting this milestone just ten weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first COVID-19 vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement,” said Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS.

“The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.

“On behalf of the whole country it’s right to mark this successful first phase with a huge thank you to everyone involved in this extraordinary team effort,” he added.

The NHS has also announced that five additional large-scale vaccination centres will open this week, with over 1,5000 sites already offering vaccinations across the UK.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published a new COVID-19 vaccination uptake plan, which is aiming to increase vaccine take-up and ensure equal access.

The plan aims to raise awareness of how the NHS is ensuring equal access to COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly for ethnic minorities, the homeless, asylum seekers and people with disabilities.

“We recognise that some groups feel more hesitant about getting a jab, or have more barriers, both physical and mental, preventing them from accessing one when it’s offered,” said Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi.

“Each shot in the arm brings us closer to beating this terrible virus. That’s why we are setting out our plan to make sure everyone is protected equally, by working hand in hand with those who know their communities best to make sure as many people as possible take up the offer of a lifesaving vaccination,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

15th February 2021

From: Healthcare

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