More than 15 million in UK given first dose of coronavirus vaccine

Catherine Wylie, PA
·5-min read

More than 15 million people in the UK have now had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The Prime Minister confirmed the milestone and described it as an “extraordinary feat” to have vaccinated millions of the most vulnerable people in the country.

Boris Johnson also said that in England jabs have been offered to everyone in the Government’s top four priority groups.

The priority list set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) includes nine categories.

The top priority was care home residents and their carers, followed by people over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers.

The third priority group was people aged 75 and over, and the fourth group was people over the age of 70 and those deemed to be “clinically extremely vulnerable”.

Government data up to February 13 shows that of the 15,599,904 jabs given in the UK so far, 15,062,189 were first doses – a rise of 505,362 on the previous day.

Some 537,715 were second doses, an increase of 2,846 on figures released the previous day.

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: “We have reached a significant milestone in the United Kingdom’s national vaccination programme.

“On December 8 just after 6.30am in the morning, this country’s first coronavirus jab was delivered safely into the arms of Margaret Keenan at University Hospital in Coventry.

“In the following two months, this country has achieved an extraordinary feat, administering a total of 15 million jabs into the arms of some of the most vulnerable people in the country.

“Those vaccines have been delivered in our NHS hospitals, in GP surgeries, in high street pharmacies, in cathedrals, churches, mosques and temples, in community centres, in living rooms, in cities, towns and villages across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“We’ve even delivered jabs in a fairground.”

He said it has been a “truly national UK-wide effort”, adding: “We’ve done it together.

“And I want to thank each and every person who has helped make it happen.

“You can be incredibly proud of the part you’ve played.

“Thanks also to everyone who has had a job so far, giving protection, not just to yourself, but also to your fellow citizens and to the NHS.”

Mr Johnson said: “And in England, I can tell you we have now offered jabs to everyone in the first four priority groups, the people most likely to be severely ill from coronavirus, hitting the first target that we set ourselves.

“Tomorrow, I will set out in full the details of the progress we’ve made with vaccinating these groups chosen because they were the most likely to be seriously ill if they caught Covid.

“But of course, no one is resting on their laurels.

“In fact, the first million or so letters offering appointments to the over 65s are already landing on doorsteps.

“We’ve still got a long way to go, and there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road.

“After all, we’ve achieved, I know we can go forward with great confidence.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this accomplishment is “thanks to the incredible efforts of frontline NHS workers, vaccine volunteers, the armed forces and all those working in local and central government”.

He added: “The vaccine rollout shows what our country can achieve working together.

“There is so much more to do and I urge anyone eligible to step forward and take up their appointment.

“The vaccine is our route to freedom – we will beat this virus jab by jab.”

In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Hancock said there was “much higher take-up than we could possibly have hoped for”.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “Hitting this milestone just 10 weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first Covid vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.

“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.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chairman, said: “Reaching the 15 million first dose target – ahead of time, and to be the first nation in the EU to do so – is an extraordinary achievement; we are immensely proud of every single healthcare worker across the country for their dedication and countless hours they have spent protecting patients against this dreadful virus.

“This milestone shows exactly what happens when clinicians are allowed to lead from the front, unhindered by unnecessary bureaucracy or red tape as they focus on delivering vaccines to patients, and this must continue as we look to the next phase of the rollout.

“As we widen the net on vaccine eligibility, it’s also vital that the Government is clear in its messaging to the public, which must be culturally competent so that we maximise uptake in areas of deprivation and in black and minority ethnic populations.”

The target was set back on January 4 when Mr Johnson said that by mid-February it is expected that the first vaccine dose will have been offered to everyone in the four top priority groups identified by the JCVI.

On that day, Mr Johnson said: “If we succeed in vaccinating all those groups, we will have removed huge numbers of people from the path of the virus.

“And of course, that will eventually enable us to lift many of the restrictions we have endured for so long.”