Health Secretary Matt Hancock has revealed that 2.6m doses of Covid vaccines have been administered to 2.3m people in the UK so far.
Asked if the target of vaccinating 13m people by mid-February was achievable, Mr Hancock said: “We are on track to meet that target – it’s not going to be easy, but we are going to get there.”
Some 78,005 first doses have been given in Northern Ireland, on top of the 1,959,151 in England, 86,039 in Wales and 163,377 in Scotland, to give a UK total of 2,286,572.
To date, almost 400,000 second doses have been administered, including 374,613 in England, 79 in Wales, 13,949 in Northern Ireland and, as of January 3, 36 in Scotland. This gives a UK total of 388,677 second doses.
"We've protected more people against coronavirus than all other European nations put together," Mr Hancock added, in a briefing at Downing Street.
The briefing on the vaccine rollout came as it was announced that the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital in England stood at a record 32,070, which is up 20% on a week ago, and up 81% since Christmas Day.
Watch the Yorkshire Post's Geri Scott ask Matt Hancock about JPI Media's campaign to involve community pharmacies in the vaccine rollout:
Mr Hancock also said that he wants the UK to return to normal as fast as possible.
"I want us to have that Great British summer," he said. "And my team and I are working hard to deliver this as fast as possible."
He added: "We have significantly accelerated the care home vaccination rollout.
"Almost a quarter of older care home residents have now received their first dose of the vaccine and we are committed to reach every care home resident this month."
Professor Stephen Powis, the National Medical Director for England, said that 1,200 pharmacies in England alone will join the vaccination roll-out.
“We will then kick off another sprint up to April as we get the rest of the vulnerable groups protected and finally a marathon to the autumn as we deliver vaccination to everyone else,” he said.
He added that, apart from social distancing and Covid-19 safety measures, “these vaccines are the best line of defence that we have as we continue this battle against coronavirus”.
The Vaccines Delivery Plan
As the Government pushes ahead with its aim to vaccinate as many people as possible against Covid-19, it has published its coronavirus Vaccines Delivery Plan.
The announcement coincides with the launch of a new campaign by JPIMedia news titles across England, asking the Government to give community pharmacies who are able to the opportunity to administer Covid vaccines.
Across the UK, more than 1,000 vaccination sites have already been established, and over two million people have now been vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Oxford vaccines. The UK rollout of the Pfizer vaccine began on 8 December, and the Oxford vaccine was first administered on 4 January.
In total, the UK has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, 30 million of the Pfizer vaccine, and 17 million of the Moderna jab.
In England, seven new large vaccination centres have just opened, located in venues including sports stadiums and exhibition centres. These are:
- Robertson House, Stevenage
- The ExCel Centre, London
- The Centre for Life, Newcastle
- The Etihad Tennis Centre, Manchester
- Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey
- Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol
- Millennium Point, Birmingham