UK vaccine rollout to continue with age as top priority

March 2nd, 2021

The UK’s vaccine rollout is to continue with age as the top priority. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has confirmed that the next phase of the rollout will begin with 40-50-year-olds.

There had been speculation that some groups would be prioritised according to occupation, but the JCVI has specified age groups, rather than jobs when setting out the next stage of the rollout. Under current guidelines, the government is working towards a target of vaccinating all over 50s by the middle of April. Once this phase is complete, vaccines will be offered to over 40s followed by 30-39-year-olds and then 18-29-year-olds.

The target is to vaccinate all adults by July 31st. In addition to over 50s, the first nine priority groups also included health and social care workers, care home staff and vulnerable younger adults with underlying health conditions that could put them at greater risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms. 

Answering questions on the next phase of the rollout, members of the JCVI explained that age is the primary risk factor for severe illness and death. Prioritising age groups that are most at risk will reduce hospitalisation rates and deaths as well as ensuring the rollout is streamlined and efficient.

Introducing additional measures, for example, putting some occupations above others, would result in delays and reduce the number of people able to get their first vaccine in the coming weeks. The aim is to move as fast as possible to ensure that as many people get their first injection. 

By Sunday 28th February, more than 20 million people in the UK had received their first vaccine. Individuals in the UK are being vaccinated using one of two approved vaccinations: Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca. Data has shown that both vaccines have an incredibly positive impact on rates of severe disease.

Research conducted by Public Health England and Public Health Scotland revealed that a single dose of either vaccine could reduce the risk of hospitalisation significantly. The figures from Public Health Scotland demonstrated a reduction in hospital admissions of 85% for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and 94% for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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