The UK rollout of the coronavirus vaccination programme has seen more than 15 million people inoculated with their first jab, just over two months after the first immunisation was given on 8 December.
This has paved the way for the next phase of the rollout, which will cover the next five priority groups, including the over-50s. 1.2 million invitations have been sent out to over-65s to book a vaccine appointment, with a similar number expected to go out in the week following the 15 million mark being reached, NHS England has said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson praised the “truly national, UK-wide effort” to reach this “significant milestone”, but added that “no one is resting on their laurels”.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. And there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road. But after all we’ve achieved, I know we can go forward with great confidence,” he said on Sunday.
There are 1,400 vaccine sites across the country, including Salisbury Cathedral, meaning over 97 per cent of the population is within 10 miles of a vaccine service.
Margaret Keenan, 91, of Coventry became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer vaccine on 8 December 2020.
According to health secretary Matt Hancock, one in every four adults was now “starting to receive protection from this dreadful disease” – but he warned that there is still “so much more to do”.
Many of us still have little choice but to sit tight and wait our turn as the NHS works its way down the list.
But if you’re feeling antsy, Omni’s Vaccine Queue Calculator is available to give you an approximate estimate of how long it will be before your number comes up.
The tool asks you to input your age and answer a few basic questions about your health and working conditions in return for a rough idea of your position in line.
It is based on the UK government’s priority list but is independent and not affiliated with the NHS or the national vaccine rollout programme.
Whatever answer you receive, patience is likely to remain the watchword - with the calculator currently operating on the base assumption that 2.7 million vaccinations will be administered per week, a figure in line with the 2.8 million administered over the week beginning 7 February.
Covid-19 is clearly far from over, with the UK suffering in excess of 4m cases of the respiratory disease so far and more than 117,000 deaths.
The current lockdown restrictions appear to be curbing the peak of the second wave, with a downward trend in cases from the peak of 68 thousand new cases on 8 January alone. Deaths are also trending downwards, but at a slower rate than positive tests.
Health secretary Matt Hancock suggests we can look forward to a “happy and free” summer, but warns of a ‘tough few months between now and then’.