The UK has reached a milestone in Covid-19 vaccinations, with over 20 million people receiving their first jab. Matt Hancock posted a video thanking all those who have made the choice to get vaccinated so far. The next group to be invited to partake will be those between the ages of 60-63, making up around two million people in total. This follows more than 3 in 4 people between the ages of 65-70 receiving their vaccination. Both political and religious leaders are urging participation in the vaccine, emphasising the need to protect others by getting it for yourself, to bolster herd immunity.
Chief executor NHS England, Sir Simon Stevens, has indicated that they plan to move down the generations and vaccinate according to a descending age criteria. While there has previously been criticism of the vaccine rollout being focused on the age of the recipient, as opposed to their professions, former chief scientific adviser Mark Walport has praised this approach, saying that the decision to vaccinate those most likely to be seriously affected by the disease, as opposed to those most likely in contact with it, maximises the effectiveness of the vaccine.
The Police Federation of England and Wales’ national chair, John Apter has expressed disappointment at the decision not to prioritise officers in the rollout, and Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders suggested that vaccine rollouts to educational staff would give the public more confidence about returning to school. Whether you agree or disagree with the specific rollout strategy, the effectiveness of the NHS rollout cannot be denied at this point: the fastest programme in Europe and the largest in NHS history. As the supply of vaccine increases in March, this plan will be accelerated to include other groups. At this point 9 in 10 of the people in the top 4 priority groups have been vaccinated.
The next two stages of the Vaccine programme are beginning to come into sight, which will be following up the first vaccination with the second booster jab. Then, the UK will have to support underdeveloped countries with inoculating their own populations. The new Covax scheme will ensure that countries across the world will receive help in distributing. The UK has provided $734 million to the scheme’s target budget of $8 million, of which it has raised $6 million. Ghana has become the first country to benefit under the scheme, with 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in the capital last week. We are surely and steadily moving along the tunnel towards the light at the end, but it may be a longer journey than many realise.