I am pleased that we are now deploying both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines in the United Kingdom, and I hope that the rapid rollout of these vaccines will end the pandemic and allow us to regain our freedoms and resume our lives in the near future.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out updated guidance on priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19, based on risk of exposure and mortality. The first phase of vaccination will include care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care workers, anyone aged over 50, and anyone aged under 50 with an underlying health condition which puts them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality. This will include the teachers who are most vulnerable to the virus.
The JCVI has indicated that a second phase of the programme, for adults under 50 without underlying health conditions, could include occupational prioritisation, depending on the latest evidence. I am assured that the Government will consider this case very carefully, and I will be sure to follow progress in this area closely.
In the meantime, it is vital that we deploy the vaccine as quickly as possible, in order to protect the most vulnerable and get the virus under control. I am pleased, therefore, that we currently lead all of Europe in the number of doses administered proportional to our population, with hundreds of thousands more doses being administered every day. I am confident that we will be able to reach the Government’s target of vaccinating 15 million people by mid-February.