8 EU countries overtake the UK’s vaccination rate: ‘We have now slipped considerably’

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The UK has fallen behind eight EU countries. (PA)
The UK has fallen behind eight EU countries in COVID vaccination. (PA)

Several EU countries have overtaken the UK's COVID vaccination rate after the number of people getting jabs in Britain slowed significantly in recent weeks.

Some eight EU nations have now fully vaccinated a higher percentage of their population than the UK.

It comes after the UK stormed ahead with its rollout at the start of the year while the EU's strategy was beset with problems, including procurement issues that saw the bloc take AstraZeneca to court over failure to deliver jabs.

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Since then the EU has managed to acquire enormous numbers of COVID vaccines and has rapidly deployed them across its populations.

Many EU countries moved fast when it came to deciding if they should vaccinate people aged between 12 and 18.

The UK approved one dose of the Pfizer jab for 12- to 15-year-olds at the start of September, while several EU nations began administering shots to over 12s in May.

The UK still has higher vaccination rate than the EU average, as the graph below demonstrates.

The percentage of people aged over 12 who have had the COVID vaccine. (Yahoo)
The percentage of people aged over 12 who have had the COVID vaccine. (Yahoo)

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At an All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting on Tuesday, several leading medical experts noted the UK had fallen behind.

Prof Martin McKee told MPs: “In terms of vaccine uptake, we were well in the lead in the beginning. We have now slipped considerably."

Discussing the UK's approach more widely, he added: "In terms of daily or weekly deaths, we are not doing well. But there are countries with weak health systems that are doing worse… but we are still in the bottom third."

Portugal, which has the highest vaccination rate in the EU, has seen a dramatic turn in fortunes after its healthcare system almost collapsed from COVID pressures at the start of the year.

98% of eligible people have now been vaccinated in Portugal and the country is struggling to find citizens who have not been jabbed.

The turnaround has been attributed to Vice Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo, who was put in charge of the nation's vaccine programme when it struggled to get off the ground.

(Yahoo)
Portugal's vaccination rate compared with the UK's and the EU average. (Yahoo)

After spending his career working on complicated logistical operations for the Portuguese military he managed to quickly right the ship.

He attributed his success to not being a politician.

Why has the rollout slowed down in the UK?

One of the main factors in the slowing rollout in the UK is the delay in vaccinating under-18s.

The UK decided to jab 12- to 15-year-olds on 13 September, several months after many EU nations had already begun to do so.

In addition, uptake among younger generations has not been as high as in older people.

In England, more than two thirds of people aged 30-34 have not been fully vaccinated. Everyone in the age group has been offered to chance to get both doses.

The figure is even lower for 18-29-year-olds.

Percentage of people fully vaccinated in the UK by age group. (Yahoo)
Percentage of people fully vaccinated in the UK by age group. (Yahoo)

Vaccination rates are still low among 16- to 17-year-olds. The rollout for this age group began on 23 August.

The UK has shifted its focus to the rollout of booster vaccines for the most vulnerable.

The aim is to give people a third shot of the COVID vaccine six months after they got their second.

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