More than 2.2 million people in the UK have received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the latest government figures show.
The news came as the government pledged to deliver at least 2 million doses to people in England per week by the end of January as part of its UK COVID-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan.
All residents and staff in over 10,000 care homes across the country will be offered a vaccine by the end of the month, the government said, and everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site or, for a small number of highly rural areas, the jab will be brought to them via mobile teams.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom Association has tweeted that it expects to receive news about the vaccination of home care workers this week.
As previously reported, UKHCA has been working with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England to design the process to get community-based social care workers the COVID-19 vaccine. The organisation expects a high uptake of the jab amongst frontline staff.
The government and the NHS have mobilised a workforce of over 80,000 health professionals to help in the delivery of the vaccine programme across different sites, with over 200,000 additional members of the public expressing their interest in helping with the non-clinical elements of the rollout – such as administrative support, logistics, stewards and first aiders.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to make such an incredible start to this ambitious deployment programme. Our vaccine deployment plan sets out exactly how we will harness these efforts to expand the programme quickly and safely.
“Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks.
“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people’s lives after a difficult year.”
As set out by the Prime Minister last week, UK COVID-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan reiterates the commitment to offer the first vaccine dose to all those in the top four priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) by February 15.
With these groups accounting for 88% of COVID-19 fatalities, the move is expected to prevent thousands of deaths once their immunity develops in 14 days.
This would account for almost half of the priority groups in phase one, with all nine high-risk groups for phase one of the programme being vaccinated by spring.
Phase two will look at the best tactics for achieving protection for the whole UK population, and may include vaccination of those at high risk of catching COVID-19 or delivering key public services.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “This historic vaccination programme is a truly national effort and shows the whole of the UK coming together to quickly and effectively protect the British public against this terrible virus.
“It’s fantastic to see so many people stepping forward to help out, and I encourage businesses, wherever possible, to allow their staff time and scope to volunteer. This is the greatest logistical challenge of our time and we must all play our part.”