Earlier this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that every adult in the UK would be offered their first dose of the vaccine before the end of 2021. And the government has been under immense pressure to deliver on its promise.
However, after more than a year of uncertainty, it appears that the UK are on track to hit their targets. More than 44million people have now received their first dose of the vaccine and it’s expected that all adults in the UK should’ve been offered their first dose by the end of July.
The number of first doses administered each day is now averaging around 202,000, with the average number of second doses averaging 170,000. This figure is below the average of 500,000 in mid-March, but is slowly climbing as the UK picks up its response to the Delta variant.
At the time of writing, everyone over the age of 18 is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The process started with people aged over 90 and priority groups – those being people at high risk of adverse and fatal reactions if they contract the virus.
If you’re registered to a general practitioner (GP) in the UK, you will either be contacted to book your vaccine, or you can go onto the government website to arrange a booking. The vaccine is free on the NHS. Once you’ve booked your vaccine, you won’t find out which vaccine you’ll receive until the day. But no matter which vaccine you receive, you will receive a second dose of the same brand.
Dr. A Amir JP, Clinical Director and University Lecturer at Manchester Medical School, told Eat News, “There have been many difficulties during this very rough and challenging time for the NHS. However, the development and rollout of the vaccination programme, by continued efforts of all involved, has been amazing to be part of. We have risen to challenges and looked for solutions and through sharing information we’ve been able to gain the confidence of the public to join the vaccination programme. There is still quite a lot of work to do and there will be other hurdles in our path, but it’s amazing that we’re already here considering what things were like a year or so ago.”
Advice on the NHS booking website states, “We’ll be contacting some people in high-risk groups directly to offer earlier appointments for their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.”
There are currently three vaccines widely available in the UK: AstraZeneca, Moderna, Pfizer. With four additional vaccines awaiting approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
As things stand, you can’t choose the brand of vaccine you receive in the UK. However, due to some fatalities in younger recipients, under-30s will no longer be offered the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. And under-40s will preferably be offered an alternative where possible. The decision was made after it was discovered that the risk of clotting in slightly higher in younger age groups. According to the latest data, 242 cases of clotting and 49 related deaths have been recorded in younger recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) released a statement in April stating, “Alternatives to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for use in the UK include the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. JCVI currently advises that it is preferable for adults aged over 30 years without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine, if available. People may make an informed choice to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to receive earlier protection.”
The UK government planned to ease lockdown restrictions completely on the 21st June. However, this has been postponed for four weeks due to the fast-spreading “Delta variant.” Government MPs voted on the decision and ruled 461 to 60 in favour of the four-week delay, despite an earlier Conservative party rebellion.
The Prime Minister said in a statement, “It is sensible to wait just a little longer, now is the time to ease off the accelerator.” The extra month of restrictions gives a “crucial” chance to deliver millions more jabs to combat the Delta variant.
In relation to the vaccination process, the gap between first and second injections for the over-40s will be cut by a third, from 12 to eight weeks, to help hit the new target. The UK now plans to lift all lockdown restrictions on 19th July. And this date is still subject to change, depending on the effectiveness of the vaccine rollout.
In other UK news, the UK’s Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has stepped down from his role. His resignation follows the leak of CCTV footage from his office, which shows him getting up close and personal with his aide Gina Coladangelo. Hancock has given multiple press conferences asking the general public to adhere to lockdown restrictions and social distancing rules. The leaked footage has allegedly instigated days of protests in London, where nine people have so far been arrested. More to follow.
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