Government data show that by the end of 13 February a total of 15,062,189 people UK-wide had received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine – a figure that health and social care secretary Matt Hancock hailed as a ‘fantastic milestone’.
The 15m target was set with the aim of delivering a first dose to everyone in the top four priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – covering residents and staff at care homes for older people, health and care workers, people over 70 years old and patients deemed clinically extremely vulnerable.
While not everyone in these groups has received a first dose of vaccine – around one in 10 over-70s were still to receive a first jab by 7 February, and the latest BMA polling shows around 5% of doctors have yet to receive one – the government is expected to say on 15 February that its target has been met because everyone in the top four cohorts has been offered a jab.
Just over half a million people UK-wide have also received a second dose of vaccine, taking the total number of doses administered since Margaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to receive a COVID-19 jab outside of a clinical trial on 8 December, to 15,599,904.
NHS officials have said that around three quarters of vaccinations have been completed by GP-led sites – suggesting that GPs had delivered around 11.7m doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 13 February since local sites joined the vaccine campaign from 14 December.
Of these, a staggering 9.7m were delivered in just over a month between the date when the UK began publishing daily figures on 11 January and the latest data for 13 February.
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Reaching the 15m first-dose target – ahead of time, and to be the first nation in the EU to do so – is an extraordinary achievement. We are immensely proud of every single healthcare worker across the country for their dedication and countless hours they have spent protecting patients against this dreadful virus.
‘This milestone shows exactly what happens when clinicians are allowed to lead from the front, unhindered by unnecessary bureaucracy or red tape as they focus on delivering vaccines to patients, and this must continue as we look to the next phase of the rollout.’
RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘The success of the COVID-19 vaccination programme so far is down to the people delivering it. GPs and our teams – along with colleagues across the NHS – have been working incredibly hard, vaccinating our most vulnerable patients to protect them from COVID-19 and we’re hugely thankful for their efforts.
‘Ensuring that 15m people have now received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is a fantastic achievement, particularly in such a short space of time, and in the face of many logistical challenges and intense workload pressures.’
GPonline reported last week that from 15 February GP-led sites will switch their focus to delivering vaccines to patients aged 16-64 with underlying conditions that put them at increased risk – the sixth priority cohort identified by the JCVI. Cohort 5 – those aged 65-69 years old – will be offered vaccination at pharmacy and mass vaccination centre sites.
COVID-19 second dose
From 1 March, sites will begin the colossal task of delivering second-dose vaccinations.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘Hitting this milestone just 10 weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first COVID-19 vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.
‘The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.’
Mr Hancock said: ‘We’ve hit this fantastic milestone in our battle against COVID-19. In less than 10 weeks we’ve jabbed over 15m people across the UK.
‘That’s one in every four adults now starting to receive protection from this dreadful disease. This accomplishment is thanks to the incredible efforts of frontline NHS workers, vaccine volunteers, the armed forces and all those working in local and central government.’