More than 60 million Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered by the NHS in England, it was revealed this week.
The milestone was reached just over six months since the first Covid-19 vaccine was granted regulatory approval in the UK on December 2nd last year.
Ninety-year old grandmother Margaret Keenan made history when she became the first person in the world to receive the jab as part of a mass vaccination programme on December 8th. It happened at University Hospital, in Coventry, which was one of the UK’s first vaccination centres.
Since then the vaccination programme has been rolled out across the UK, focussing first on the most clinically vulnerable and those working in frontline healthcare, then moving down through the age groups.
Commenting on this week’s milestone, NHS England’s lead for the NHS vaccination programme, Dr Emily Lawson, said: “Hitting 60 million vaccinations is an incredible achievement for the NHS COVID vaccination programme, thanks to the non-stop efforts of NHS staff and volunteers, whose actions to protect their patients and communities have quite simply saved thousands of lives.
“The biggest vaccination drive in history, fastest in Europe and most precise in the world has entered the home straight, as we last week opened up bookings to people aged 25 to 29, and it was fantastic to see the offer was received with record-breaking levels of enthusiasm.
“The COVID-19 vaccine remains our best defence against coronavirus so when you get invited book your lifesaving jab and also, crucially, your second dose to maximise protection.”
Those who are vulnerable or in the older age groups should by now have had both their Covid jabs, but the official advice remains to be vigilant. Even those who are fully vaccinated can still catch the disease, although its effects are likely to be much less pronounced.
This week also saw the final relaxation of anti-Covid measures – which was previously set for June 21st – postponed by a month as new variants continue to cause a rise in cases in many parts of the UK. The official advice from the NHS remains to wear a face covering in public places, wash and sanitise your hands regularly, maintain social distancing and keep indoor spaces well ventilated.
Announcing the postponement of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ to July 19th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As things stand – and on the basis of the evidence I can see right now – I am confident we will not need any more than four weeks and we won’t need to go beyond July 19th. It is unmistakably clear the vaccines are working and the sheer scale of the vaccine roll-out has made our position incomparably better than in previous waves.
“But now is not the time to ease off the accelerator, because by being cautious now we have the chance – in the next four weeks – to save many thousands of lives by vaccinating millions more people. And once the adults of this country have been overwhelmingly vaccinated, which is what we can achieve in a short space of time, we will be in a far stronger position to keep hospitalisations down, to live with this disease, and to complete our cautious but irreversible roadmap to freedom.”