Covid vaccine available to 37-year-olds from tomorrow and 36-year-olds from Wednesday

Under-35s expected later this week

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 17 May 2021 17:12
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Matt Hancock says Covid strategy on track, but Indian variant has given disease 'more legs'

The health secretary Matt Hancock has announced that 37-year-olds will be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine from tomorrow.

And 36-year-olds will receive texts inviting them for their jabs on Wednesday

Doctors began treating 38- and 39-year-olds last week, but as the vaccination programme continues apace ministers hope to open it out to under-35s later this week.

But amid fears that vaccine hesitancy is fueling problems with the Indian variant, Mr Hancock issued a public warning that inoculation “will help us all get out of this pandemic”.

A high number of those in hospital in Bolton with the strain first identified in India were eligible for the vaccine but had not received it, it emerged at the weekend.

Mr Hancock told MPs: “It has been really heartening, I am sure the whole House will agree, to see the videos that have been published over the weekend of people queuing up to get the jab.

“To anyone who feels hesitant, not just in Bolton or Blackburn... just look at what is happening in Bolton Hospital where the majority of people in hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but have chosen not yet to have the jab and have ended up in hospital - some of them in intensive care.

“Vaccines save lives, they protect you, they protect your loved ones and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.”

He confirmed ‘surge’ testing will take place in Bedford, after a rise in Indian variant cases identified there.

But he said there was good news about how effective jabs were in treating the worrying new strain.

He told MPs that “early evidence” suggests that B1617.2, the official name for the Indian variant, “is more transmissible than the previously dominant B1117 variant. We do not yet know to what extent it is more transmissible”.

But, he added, while “we also don’t have the complete picture on the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data from Oxford University corroborates the evidence from Bolton Hospital and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against this variant.”

The NHS said that more than three in four people aged 40 to 49, over five and a half million people, have received a first dose of protection.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Bookings for the fastest and most successful NHS vaccination programme in history continue to surge with more than 930,000 appointments made in a matter of days since opening up to 38 and 39 year olds.

“Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid 19, so when it is your turn to get your first or second dose please do so.”

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