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Only half of population likely to get vaccinated

Less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against coronavirus, according to the head of the country’s vaccine taskforce.

Kate Bingham told the Financial Times that officials were hoping to be able to administer the medicine to around 30 million adults in the country of around 67 million and “we just need to vaccinate everyone at risk”.

The head of the immunisation programme added: “People keep talking about ‘time to vaccinate the whole population’ but that is misguided. There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18.

“It’s an adult-only vaccine for people over 50 focusing on health workers and care home workers and the vulnerable.”

Last month it was reported by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that care home residents were among those who should be at the top of the list for a jab when one becomes available.

Their interim guidance said the order of priority should start with:

- Older adults in a care home and care home workers

- All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list

- Anyone 75 years of age and over before considering other adults over the age of 50.

Earlier yesterday, the health secretary voiced his support for the prioritisation list at the virtual Conservative Party conference.

Matt Hancock also told viewers that the armed forces will be involved in the roll-out of the medicine.

He described prioritisation as “important because we’ve got to get the vaccine to the people who are most likely to be badly affected by coronavirus first”.

“But it is also important because people can know in advance that there is a prioritisation and we will reach people when it is clinically right to do that.

“And then there’s a huge logistical operation which we’re planning, led by the NHS with the support of the armed services to make sure we have the logistics in place to get this rolled out as fast as it is feasibly possible.”

A government spokesperson said: “We want as many people as possible to access a Covid-19 vaccine and we are considering the advice of the independent Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation on which groups of people to prioritise.

“The committee’s interim advice is the vaccine should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people over 80 and health and social care workers, then to the rest of the population in order of age and risk.

“An enormous amount of planning and preparation has taken place across government to quickly roll out a safe and effective vaccine.”

Press Association