Final push to reach over-70s vaccination target in UK

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People in the UK aged 70 or over who have not yet had a Covid-19 vaccine jab have been urged to come forward, in a final push by ministers to meet their vaccination target.

More than 14 million people in the UK have had at least one dose – with the aim being 15 million by Monday.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said the UK could this year live with Covid “like we do with flu”, the BBC reported.

“I hope that Covid-19 will become a treatable disease by the end of the year,” he told a leading British media outlet.

Over the weekend, ministers are taking part in a renewed drive to encourage people in the top four priority groups — comprising people aged 70 and over, front-line health and social care workers, care home residents and the clinically extremely vulnerable — to get vaccinated.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a Covid-19 press conference

The government is aiming to offer a vaccine to 15 million people in these priority groups by February 15 – which would cover 88 per cent of those most at risk of dying from Covid-19.

On Friday, Wales said it was the first UK nation to meet the target.

Across the UK, a quarter of adults have already received one dose of a Covid vaccine, including around nine in 10 of all over 70s.

People aged 70 or over in England have already been asked to contact the NHS to arrange their jab. They can book an appointment online, or by calling 119 or contacting their local GP.

Health and social care workers should speak to their employer if they have not had their vaccine yet, the Department for Health said.

Also, GP teams have been asked to contact their clinically extremely vulnerable patients to make sure they have been offered a jab.

Almost 30 government ministers are taking part in visits and virtual meetings across the UK in a further push to encourage everyone eligible for the jab to get vaccinated.

They will hear from NHS staff and volunteers helping with the rollout, as well as people getting the vaccine.

Hancock said: “I am determined that we protect as many of our country’s most vulnerable people from this awful disease as soon as possible.”

“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and it is testament to the strength of our Union and the combined power of our United Kingdom that we’ve seen such incredible progress in the roll out of our vaccination programme,” he added.

Prof. Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said the UK’s vaccination programme was “off to a strong start”.

“People in the priority groups have not missed their chance to get jabbed and if you are aged 70 and over and haven’t yet taken up the offer, please do come forward and make an appointment,” he said.