UK expands COVID-19 vaccine program to those over 45
(Sourced from PTI)
The National Health Service (NHS) in England on Tuesday expanded the COVID-19 vaccination program to the next cohort on its age-based priority list to all above 45 years of age after it announced that the target to cover over-50s had been met ahead of the April 15 deadline. The NHS confirmed that nearly 40 million vaccine doses had now been administered across the UK.
The government had set a target to offer a COVID-19 jab to all above 50 years, the clinically vulnerable, and health and social care workers about 32 million people by this Thursday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed "another hugely significant milestone," adding that focus would now be on completing essential second doses and meeting the target of offering adults a vaccine by July end.
"More than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against COVID-19. I want to thank everyone involved in the vaccine roll-out which has already saved many thousands of lives," the prime minister said.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said, "The latest milestone means that 19 out of 20 of those most at risk from COVID-19 had now been vaccinated." "Thanks to our NHS nurses, doctors, pharmacists, operational managers, and thousands of other staff and volunteers, the NHS COVID-19 vaccination program is without a doubt the most successful in our history," said Stevens.
"It's one of our tickets out of this pandemic and offers real hope for the future," he said. The announcement comes as England began giving out its first doses of Moderna vaccine, the third vaccine in the roll-out that had been launched in Wales earlier.
It will be available at 21 sites across England, along with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. Under the new regulatory guidance, when vaccines are expanded to the under-30s age group, they would be offered either the Pfizer or Moderna jabs after concerns about a possible link to very rare blood clots with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has insisted that the vaccine benefits continue to outweigh any risks but said those aged 18-29 in the UK will be offered an alternative vaccine instead, where available, as an added precaution until further investigations remain ongoing.