NHS is on track to hit 15 million vaccinations TOMORROW
Jab well done! NHS is on track to hit 15 million vaccinations on Saturday in major step forward in battle against Covid as over-50s in some areas are offered injection
- 14,012,224 doses of the Pfizer and Oxford vaccines have been administered
- Programme has advanced so well in some areas that the over 50s group are next
- Covid numbers are down and R has dipped below one for the first time since July
The NHS is on course to reach its target of vaccinating 15million Britons tomorrow.
In a major step forward in the battle against coronavirus, 14,012,224 first doses of the Pfizer and Oxford jabs have been administered.
The total includes more than 500,000 from Thursday, meaning the 15million target should be hit today – 48 hours ahead of schedule.
The focus has been on the top four priority groups: the over-70s, care home residents, healthcare workers and people shielding.
Paramedic Andrew Parker gives the vaccine to Norma Duncan near Inverness as the vaccination numbers continues to grow
But it emerged yesterday that the vaccination programme is so advanced in some areas that over-50s are being offered jabs.
Further positive news came with figures showing that cases of Covid-19 are continuing to fall. The R number is now below one for the first time since July, showing the devastating pandemic is finally shrinking.
In other developments:
- Another 758 coronavirus deaths and 15,144 cases were recorded, taking the total testing positive past four million;
- Hopes that families can reunite at Easter suffered a blow as Government scientists demanded a cautious route out of lockdown;
- 240 healthy young asylum seekers placed at a hotel near Heathrow received Covid vaccines despite not being eligible;
- Neil Ferguson – dubbed Professor Lockdown because of his gloomy virus modelling – was ‘hopeful’ Britain was in its final national lockdown and some restrictions could be lifted by May;
- Care home residents are twice as likely to die if they catch the more infectious Kent variant than the original, figures suggest;
- The hotel quarantine system remained mired in chaos, with travellers still unable to book via the official website yesterday;
- Britain has managed to dodge a double-dip recession after the economy grew by 1 per cent in the last three months of 2020.
Almost 30 ministers are today taking part in a further push in every region and nation of the UK to encourage everyone eligible for a vaccine to come forward. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I am determined that we protect as many of our country’s most vulnerable people from this awful disease as soon as possible.
Sir Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS in England, chats to the public as they wait for their vaccine
‘It is so important that everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination comes forward this weekend and contacts the NHS to book in their jab. Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and it is testament to the strength of our Union and the combined power of our United Kingdom that we’ve seen such incredible progress in the rollout of our vaccination programme.’
With the four priority groups having received their first injections ahead of the deadline this coming Monday, the focus will shift to reaching 17million more people by May 1. Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford said one in five had received their first dose and some over-50s had been offered a vaccination.
‘Outnumbered’ police blast Covid crowds
Police have warned the public of the Covid risks posed by large crowds after hundreds of people gathered to go sledging or drink in parks this week.
Officers responded to busy scenes on Town Moor in Newcastle on Thursday and in Middlesbrough on Wednesday, while police in Leicester cracked down on a ‘pop-up pub’. Cleveland Police said they were ‘outnumbered’ after receiving reports of hundreds of visitors sledging at Flatts Lane Country Park in Middlesbrough.
An officer said: ‘If they’re not going to engage with us … we’re going to have to start taking names and addresses and issuing fines.’
Those aged 65 and over in England will now be called up if GPs have done all they can to reach those at higher risk, NHS England said yesterday. Some districts have already started vaccinating this cohort.
Nottinghamshire clinical commissioning group is among those to start issuing invitations while Shropshire, Coventry, York and Hampshire have already administered jabs.
The next groups in line are those over 16 with underlying health conditions, then the over-60s, the over-55s and the over-50s.
More than 11.8million vaccinations have now been given at 1,500 sites in England, including pharmacies, mosques, cinemas and supermarkets.
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she expects many in the 65-to-69 age group to have had their first vaccine by the middle of this month. And in Northern Ireland, people aged 65 to 69 have been able to book a Covid-19 vaccine at seven regional centres since the end of January.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is due to recommend which groups should then follow.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said yesterday that the committee was looking at how police officers could be prioritised and that forces had been instructed to begin drawing up plans for giving jabs.
In a phone-in on LBC radio, she said: ‘They are literally looking now at how we can make sure that police officers and others who have high occupational risk will get the vaccine.
‘I absolutely want to see police officers receiving the vaccine across the country, which is why have asked forces to get their plans ready for vaccine rollout.’
Miss Patel said in some areas officers were already being vaccinated thanks to ‘informal’ arrangements with NHS clinical commissioning groups. Whitehall sources said the committee was considering how police officers could be vaccinated once the first nine priority groups had received the jab, although it may be several weeks before it issues advice.
Mr Hancock said last night: ‘It is clearly good news that the number of cases is coming down, the plan is working. But we are a long way off getting this sorted. There are still over 25,000 people in hospital with coronavirus. What we are doing collectively together is having a really positive impact, but there is still a long way to go.’
Geoff Hurst and other sporting legends are leading a drive to urge the over-70 who are yet to receive their vaccine to get the jab.
The 1966 World Cup hero said: ‘This is a global pandemic. For goodness sake, just get it done. It’s in your interest, as well as that of your family, friends, workmates and your country.’
£200 for stopping on a pavement
By Rebecca Camber, Crime and Security Editor
A business manager and her sister were fined £200 each while walking home from a market as one of them answered a work call.
Catherine Homer, 31, had walked to London’s Borough Market with her sister from their shared apartment in Surrey Quays, south-east London, to get some exercise and buy food. Her sister, who works in public relations, then took a call.
A furious Miss Homer, pictured, said yesterday: ‘We must have been stood for no longer than two minutes when two police officers approached us and asked what we were doing there in a very aggressive way.’
She said one ‘patronising’ officer asked them: ‘Don’t you know there is a pandemic on?’ They were then told they would be fined but after being contacted by the Daily Mail, Scotland Yard cancelled the fees.
A spokesman said many of the market’s visitors pose a ‘clear risk to public health’ by remaining in the streets nearby.
She said the fines were cancelled after a review.
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