20 million people in UK have had first dose of coronavirus vaccine

Health secretary hails latest inoculation figures as ‘magnificent achievement for the country’

More than 20 million Britons have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose, the UK government has said.

In a video uploaded to his Twitter profile, the health secretary, Matt Hancock, said it was a “magnificent achievement for the country”.

He added: “I’m absolutely delighted that over 20 million people have now been vaccinated across the UK – it’s absolutely fantastic.

“I want to thank every single person who’s come forward to get the jab because we know with increasing confidence that the jab protects you, it protects your community and it also is the route out of this for all of us.”

The vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, tweeted: “Bingo! One score over 20,000,000 people have had the vaccination (1st dose). What an achievement for February 2021. What a team! Proud to be with you on this journey.”

Government data shows that of the 20.5m jabs given in the UK up to 27 February, only 768,810, or approximately 4%, represented second doses.

It comes as nearly 2 million people aged 60 to 63 in England are being invited to book a coronavirus jab, with their letters due to start arriving on Monday. NHS England said the letters would explain how people could make an appointment through the national booking service.

The letters had been sent out after more than three in four people aged 65 to 70 took up the offer of a vaccination, it added.

A further 149 people who tested positive for coronavirus had died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 83,123, NHS England said on Sunday.

Patients were aged between 23 and 103 and all except six, aged between 34 and 89, had known underlying health conditions. The deaths took place between 8 January and 27 February.

Nine out of 10 people aged 65 and over in England have now had their first covid vaccine, and the latest batch of invites will mean that everyone in the first seven priority groups will have been offered a jab.

Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director, said: “It is down to the hard work of NHS staff, volunteers and all the others supporting the vaccination programme, that we can now invite everyone aged 60 to 63 years old to arrange an appointment to get jabbed as soon as possible.

“It is never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward and protect yourself and others.”

Last week, the NHS wrote to almost 450,000 people aged 64, as well as 600,000 at-risk individuals who have recently been asked to shield.

Vaccinations are being administered at more than 1,500 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, with the distribution of centres meaning 98% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service. Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are being asked not to turn up early to avoid creating queues.

Contributor

Linda Geddes

The GuardianTramp

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