People aged 28 and 29 are expected to be offered the vaccine from the week commencing May 31.
Everyone aged under-40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine under recommendation from the JCVI, in response to concerns over a rare blood clot.
All over-30s are currently eligible for vaccines in England, and more than half of people in their 30s have now received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Booking in England opened up to those aged 30 and 31 on May 26. The NHS has urged the million or so eligible to take up the offer of a jab at one of the 1,600 available locations.
On May 31, Twickenham Stadium in London opened as a mass vaccination centre, inviting those over 18 to receive a first dose of the vaccine. NHS North West London tweeted that day that anyone aged 18 or over could attend if they did so before 7.30pm, leading to thousands of young people turning up to receive a jab.
However, NHS sources said the decision to invite all over-18s was not a change in policy but a move to avoid vaccine wastage at the end of the day.
Covid vaccination staff with a Pfizer jab at Twickenham rugby stadium in London on May 31, after the venue opened as a mass vaccination centre
Credit: Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
It comes as the rollout of second doses has been accelerated, following concerns about the spread of the Indian variant, with ministers in a race to offer all over-50s their second jab before the planned end of restrictions on June 21.
Ministers have repeatedly said the programme is on track to offer first doses to all over-18s by the end of July, but there are hopes that that the target could be reached earlier.
Mr Johnson has said everyone "must play their part" and get a Covid jab, amid concern that the spread of the Indian variant is being fuelled by those who have refused to be vaccinated. Two doses of the vaccine appear to be effective against the Indian variant, the Health Secretary confirmed in a press conference on May 27.
Additionally, health experts have urged Boris Johnson to consider giving the Covid-19 vaccine to children as young as 12 to protect teachers.
The Government smashed another target in the vaccine rollout, with over 70 per cent of UK adults having received a first dose as of May 26, and four in five people in England aged over 60 now fully vaccinated.
A total of 39,477,158 people in the UK have now received a first dose of the vaccine as of June 1 (nearly three quarters of the adult population), while 25,734,719 are now fully inoculated following a second jab.
Real-world data from Public Health England (PHE) has shown having both doses of vaccines prevents 90 per cent of symptomatic infections, with ministers saying the findings showed the “incredible impact” of Britain’s vaccine rollout.
Three vaccines are now in use – Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna – and the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been approved for use in the UK as of May 28. The government has ordered 20 million doses, which will be used to target "hard-to-reach" groups in the vaccine rollout, such as those who may be reluctant to come forward for two jabs. Additionally, the Janssen vaccine will potentially be used as part of a booster programme later in the year.
Restrictions were eased further in England on May 17, with people now able to meet indoors under the "rule of six" and two households rule. Indoor hospitality has also reopened under Step Three of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.
However, local lockdowns to tackle the spread of the Indian variant have not been ruled out – but the Government is aiming to keep to the roadmap on lifting restrictions, Downing Street has said.
An expert from the JCVI, however, has urged the government to delay the June 21 reopening to avoid the risk of further lockdowns in the future.
The Prime Minister is under pressure to continue with the roadmap, with a government spokesperson reiterated Mr Johnson’s statement on May 27 that they saw nothing in the data to deter the next step of the roadmap.
With a view to preventing the spread of variants, a “one shot” jab could be targeted at vaccine refuseniks in areas which see surges in cases, The Telegraph understands.
In order to prevent the spread of the Indian variant, surge testing has been introduced in Bedford, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Hounslow, Kirklees, Leicester and North Tyneside.
Additionally, The Telegraph understands fully vaccinated people will still have to self-isolate for 10 days if they come into contact with someone infected with Covid after June 21, when the last group of restrictions are due to be dropped.
Who will receive the vaccine, and when?
People aged 30 and over are being offered the coronavirus vaccine, with hopes that those in their late 20s will begin receiving invitations from the week commencing May 31.
It is understood that the final cohort, of those aged 18 to 29, involves just five million adults in England. In Wales, booking is already open to all people over the age of 18, while in Northern Ireland for those aged 25 and over.
Under advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), people under 40 are offered Pfizer or Moderna, rather than AstraZeneca due to the link with rare blood clots.
Officials said that while the intention is to administer Pfizer or Moderna, it was possible that some of those in younger groups might be offered AstraZeneca on the day, in the event of any delays in supplies.
The same recommendation has been made for pregnant women, who can access the national booking service to ensure they are sent to sites with Pfizer and Moderna.
Currently, around 3,000 people aged 30 and over are being recruited for a clinical trial to see whether a booster vaccine dose could protect people against Covid-19 variants. Mr Hancock announced the news in a press conference on May 19, encouraging people who have received their first dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine in December or January to come forward.
The Deputy Chairman of the JCVI has also stated that mixing vaccines could improve protection against coronavirus. Prof Harnden has said that different vaccine types could coalesce to boost the immune system and provide a longer-lasting response.
It comes as Pfizer has asked the UK regulator to approve its vaccine for use in young teenagers as US watchdogs signalled their approval for the step.
The pharmaceutical giant has formally asked the MHRA for permission to use the jab in 12- to 15-year-olds – one of the age groups most responsible for spreading the virus.
Given the organisation’s fast-track review process, it is likely the vaccine would be approved well before the end of July, the point at which the Government aims to have offered a jab to all adults.
Medical advisers will insist that Mr Johnson makes a political decision on whether to vaccinate children and will not offer a firm recommendation, The Telegraph understands.
Health experts are urging Mr Johnson to consider giving the vaccine to children as young as 12 to protect teachers.
Previously, a study by Pfizer suggested that its Covid-19 jab is "100 per cent effective and well tolerated" among children aged 12 to 15.
Mr Hancock confirmed on May 17 that the government had procured enough Pfizer vaccines to inoculate all children over the age of 12. He emphasised that the decision would not be taken lightly, and would be considered over the next two months as the rollout continues.
Phase One of the vaccination programme, which was completed on April 13, involved offering the vaccine to the top nine JCVI priority groups and everyone over 50, estimated to include 32 million people.
Health care workers and adults on the learning disabilities register were also invited to get a coronavirus vaccine, along with over-16s sharing a household with someone who is immunosuppressed.
NHS staff would be legally required to have a Covid vaccine under plans to crack down on transmission of the virus within hospitals.
Why is there a delay between the first and second jabs?
Regulators have said the key to success will be to administer two full doses between four to 12 weeks apart, in order to give as many people the initial dose of the vaccine as possible, which offers some protection from the virus.
However, the rollout of second doses has been accelerated for over-50s following concerns about the spread of the Indian variant.
A study found a single dose of the Oxford vaccine was 76 per cent effective in fending off infection between 22 days and 90 days post-injection, rising to 82.4 per cent after a second dose at that stage. Researchers involved in the trial said the findings support the decision made by the UK to extend the interval between initial doses and booster doses of the shot to 12 weeks.
While a different study found that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided a "very high" level of protection from Covid-19 after just 21 days, without the need for a second "top-up" vaccination.
The UEA study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, looked at data from Israel where the vaccine has been rolled out. Scientists found the vaccine becomes 90 per cent effective after 21 days – supporting UK plans to delay the timing of a second jab.
Those who had received the Pfizer jab were 49 per cent less likely to transmit the virus to others in their households, while transmission fell by 38 per cent for those given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
According to data released on May 20 by PHE, a fortnight after the first dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine, the chance of getting symptomatic Covid fell by nearly 60 per cent, with a second dose bringing this up to 90 per cent.
The PHE data examined cases of coronavirus among those aged 65 and over, who were in the first groups to get vaccinated.
While it is not yet known how long immunity lasts beyond 21 days without a second dose, researchers believe it is "unlikely" to majorly decline during the following nine weeks.
Read more: From transmission to efficacy, the Oxford, Pfizer and other Covid vaccines compared
How will I be invited to get the vaccine?
The NHS will contact you when you are eligible for the vaccine and you will be invited to make an appointment.
If you are registered to a GP, you will be contacted by your surgery either over the phone, by text, email or post, in order to book in to receive a vaccine at your local vaccination centre.
You can still register at a GP surgery if you are not already registered to one, and it is advised that you make sure that your contact details are up to date to ensure that there are no delays.
However, if you are over 50 and have still not taken up an offer of the vaccine, the government urges you to contact your GP.
Alternatively, you can check whether you are eligible and find an appointment by using the NHS vaccination booking service.
Three modes of delivery
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there would be “three modes of delivery”, with hospitals and mass vaccination centres along with pharmacists and GPs offering the jab.
In total, 250 active hospital sites, 89 vaccination centres, and around 1,600 local vaccination sites – including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, as well as pharmacies – have been set up to ensure every at-risk person has easy access to a vaccination centre, regardless of where they live.
Sites across the country, including the ExCel in London, Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester and Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, have been transformed into vaccine hubs and have been administering vaccines from January 25.
Twickenham Stadium also opened up on May 31 as a mass vaccination centre, offering a vaccine to those over 18 who turned up on the day to prevent a waste in doses.
The Prime Minister has also announced the formation of an ‘antivirals taskforce’, which will be launched with the aim of developing at least two effective treatments for Covid by the end of the year.
What about the new variant of coronavirus? Will the vaccine still protect us?
The emergence of new Covid-19 strains, such as the South African, Indian and Brazilian variants, have threatened to undermine the vaccine and testing gains of recent months.
But vaccines appear to prevent 97 per cent of infections with the Indian variant, real world data suggests, with no known cases of death among those fully vaccinated in the UK.
The Indian variant has spread three times faster than other imported strains, Public Health England figures showed on May 12, and is now dominant in several Covid-19 hotspots in the North West of England.
The strain was escalated to a "variant of concern" by PHE on May 7, based on evidence which suggests it is at least as transmissible as a strain known as the Kent variant.
People queue up to receive vaccinations on a bus in Bolton, which has experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases
Credit: PAUL COOPER
The government was accused of "incompetence" after it appeared to have stealthily imposed local lockdowns in hotspots of the Indian variant.
But Ministers were forced into a climbdown on May 25 amid criticism that their failure to launch a messaging campaign to explain travel restrictions had descended into farce.
Guidance had urged 1.7 million people in eight parts of England to restrict travel in and out of their area and socialise outdoors instead of indoors where possible. Local health and council leaders, who reacted angrily to the Government’s failure to inform them of the new guidelines, subsequently told residents they did not have to follow them.
The Government then had to publish new guidance to explain that the curbs on travel and socialising were advice and not legally binding restrictions. It applies to residents of Bolton, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Bedford, Kirklees, Leicester, Hounslow and North Tyneside.
The advice, which the Government said is not new regulations, aims to highlight "additional precautions" residents can take, such as staying two metres apart from people not in the same household.
Local lockdowns to tackle the spread of the Indian Covid variant have not been ruled out, but the Government is aiming to keep to the roadmap on lifting restrictions, Downing Street has said.
Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said on May 26 that ministers wanted to retain a national strategy and "stick to the approach" set out in the blueprint for lifting Covid measures.
In response to the rise in the numbers of cases of the Indian variant, the government wants to vaccinate as many as one million people a day as part of a drive to save the British summer, The Telegraph disclosed on May 16.
India has been added to the government’s ‘red list’, which prevents people travelling from the country to enter the UK.
Read more: Fast-spreading Indian variant is main strain in England’s virus hotspots
Even without the prospect of a deadly new variant which could escape the vaccines currently being used, Mr Johnson said there was a "high likelihood" of a seasonal surge in coronavirus cases in the winter.
In more promising news, vaccines against new coronavirus variants should be ready by October, the team behind the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab said, after The Telegraph revealed that Britain would have the capacity to vaccinate the entire nation against new coronavirus strains within four months, once a new “super-factory” opens this year.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Zahawi revealed over-70s will start to get booster Covid vaccines from September to protect them from new virus variants. The plan will see some people have three doses within the first 10 months of the jabs being in use.
The first booster doses will go to people in the top four priority groups for the original rollout – those aged over 70 as well as frontline NHS and social care workers.
Military labs are to quadruple testing in the battle against Covid variants, it was confirmed on May 5. Ministers have pledged a £30m investment to facilitate weekly testing at the military laboratory Porton Down. This is part of government planning to safeguard the progress of the roadmap out of lockdown and the future of public health moving forward.
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