From today, the NHS is inviting people aged 70 and over to have a coronavirus vaccine.
The vaccination campaign, which kicked off on December 8, has until now focused solely on the first two priority groups, namely over-80s and frontline health and care staff.
In an announcement earlier today, the Department of Health and Social Care said that while these two target groups “remain the priority” there is now sufficient capacity and vaccine supply to begin offering jabs to the next two groups – those aged 70 and over and “clinically extremely vulnerable people”.
These extremely vulnerable individuals include those who have had an organ transplant, are having chemotherapy or have a severe lung condition such as cystic fibrosis or severe COPD.
Areas where the majority of individuals in the first two priority groups have been vaccinated may now begin offering a vaccine to these at-risk individuals.
Prime minister Boris John said: “Today is a significant milestone in our vaccination programme as we open it up to millions more people who are most at risk from COVID-19.
“We are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Now that more than half of all over-80s have had their jab, we can begin vaccinating the next most vulnerable groups.
“We are working day and night to make sure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by the middle of February.
“This measure does not mean our focus on getting care homes, healthcare staff and those aged 80 and over vaccinated is wavering – it will remain our utmost priority over the coming weeks to reach the rest of these groups.”