Tens of millions ‘to be vaccinated by spring’

Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent
·3-min read

At least two million people will be vaccinated against Covid-19 every week, ministers have said as they set out the plans for the biggest vaccination programme in UK history.

Ministers said that tens of millions of people will be immunised by the spring at more than 2,700 vaccination sites across the UK.

Officials also confirmed that every adult would be offered a vaccine “by the autumn”.

The Government’s UK Covid-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan sets out how it will deliver on its ambitions alongside the NHS and Armed Forces.

The first phase of the rollout will focus on those at highest risk of severe illness and death.

The second phase could include “targeted vaccination of those at high risk of exposure and/or those delivering key public services”, the document states.

Officials have faced increasing calls for frontline workers outside of the NHS and care work – including teachers, transport workers and first responders – to also be vaccinated.

The document adds that by the end of January everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site.

And for those outside of this catchment, in highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them via mobile teams.

Before the end of the month, ministers aim to have the capacity to vaccinate at least two million people a week in England alone.

And before the end of January it is hoped that all people in the first priority group for vaccination – residents and staff in over 10,000 care homes across the country – will have been offered a vaccine.

It comes as new figures for England show that 2.3 million coronavirus vaccines have been delivered in England up to January 10.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that a workforce of over 80,000 health workers could be involved with the vaccine rollout.

And more than 200,000 community volunteers have said that they will help with non-clinical aspects of the programme.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to make such an incredible start to this ambitious deployment programme.

“Our vaccine deployment plan sets out exactly how we will harness these efforts to expand the programme quickly and safely.

“Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks.

“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “This historic vaccination programme is a truly national effort and shows the whole of the UK coming together to quickly and effectively protect the British public against this terrible virus.

“It’s fantastic to see so many people stepping forward to help out, and I encourage businesses, wherever possible, to allow their staff time and scope to volunteer. This is the greatest logistical challenge of our time and we must all play our part.”