All UK adults have been offered a first dose of a COVID vaccine – hitting the prime minister’s target just ahead of schedule, the government has announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care said more than 46.2 million people had now had a first dose (87.8% of the population), while 35.7 million had received both shots (67.8%).
Boris Johnson had set 19 July as the date to offer all over-18s a jab, as well as to fully vaccinate two in three people.
It has been met a day before most existing coronavirus restrictions end in England.
The prime minister said today’s milestone was an “extraordinary achievement” and that it comes just eight months after the first shot was administered.
“Thank you again to everyone coming forward, and to those helping others to get jabbed,” he said.
“You are the reason we are able to cautiously ease restrictions next week, and return closer towards normal life. Now let’s finish the job. If you’re over 18, book both your jabs today.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who’s isolating after contracting the virus himself, said it was “testament to the sheer dedication of NHS teams and local volunteers” who’ve been giving out the jabs.
Every adult will now have the chance to be double-jabbed by mid-September, added the Department of Health.
However, according to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, ministers have decided against a mass vaccination of under-18s and will only offer a jab to those who are vulnerable.
The UK’s roll-out has been one of the quickest in the world after the government secured early access to 500 million doses.
Regulator the MHRA was also the first in the world to approve the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.
People who have been double-jabbed will not have to quarantine when coming back from an amber list country from 19 July – as long as they’ve had their last dose at least two weeks before.
And – from 16 August – they also won’t have to isolate if identified as a close contact of a positive COVID test.
The number of people being “pinged” by the NHS app has surged in recent weeks and there have been calls to bring this date forward, or to change the sensitivity of the app.