In the UK over 60 million doses of the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine have been administered, with 37.9 million people receiving at least one jab.
Health services across the UK have now administered a total of around 60.6 million vaccines since 8 December, including around 37.9 million people with their first dose (72%) and 22.6 million with both doses (43%), ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 from a second dose.
This comes as new real-world data shows the vaccines are reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving more than 13,000 lives and preventing 39,100 hospitalisations in England by 9 May.
The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by 15 April and remains on track to offer the first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England is sending texts inviting people to book a vaccination for those aged 32 and 33.
To ensure people have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19, appointments for second doses have been brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for the remaining people in the top 9 priority groups who have yet to receive both doses.
The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval to counter the threat of new variants of concern.
Earlier this week, the government announced new decisive actions to halt the spread of the B1.617.2 variant of concern first identified in India. Targeted activity is taking place to continue to drive vaccine uptake amongst eligible cohorts to protect the most vulnerable.
The government continues to work in close partnership with local authorities to ensure the right action is taken at the right time, and to boost uptake of the approved vaccines for those eligible in these areas.
The UK is also providing support to the Scottish government, who are adopting similar action to control the spread of variants in Glasgow and Moray.
The government and its scientific experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, and will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary.
The vaccine offers high levels of protection against symptomatic disease and even higher levels of protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19. Protection increases with the second dose which is why it’s vital that everyone gets both doses of the vaccine as soon as they are offered to them. Getting the vaccine makes people less likely to get infected and growing evidence shows that it also helps to prevent them from passing the virus on to others.
The latest data from Public Health England’s (PHE’s) real-world study shows the vaccines are already having a significant impact in the UK, reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving at least 13,000 lives and preventing at least 39,100 hospitalisations in England by 9 May. For the over 80s, it is estimated that 2 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduce the risk of hospitalisation by 93% from the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant.
PHE analysis also shows that individuals who receive a single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 80% lower risk of death against the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant originating in Kent and a second dose of the vaccine can provide 85-90% protection against symptomatic disease. Protection against death from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rises from approximately 80% after one dose to 97% after 2 doses against the Kent variant.
A new study by PHE shows that 2 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India. Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant is similar after 2 doses compared to the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant dominant in the UK, and expect to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalisation and death.
Data published by YouGov shows the UK continues to top the list of nations where people are willing to have a COVID-19 vaccine or have already been vaccinated.
ONS data published on 6 May found that more than 9 in 10 (93%) adults reported positive sentiment towards the vaccine.
Approved vaccines are available from thousands of NHS vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies. Around 98% of people live within 10 miles of a vaccination centre in England and vaccinations are taking place at sites including mosques, community centres and football stadiums.
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