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All adults in the UK are to be offered the Covid jab by 31 July, the Prime Minister has said.
With 17 million people having received the jab since the vaccine rollout began in December 2020 and almost 600,000 having had their second, Boris Johnson has made a new pledge.
In a bid to get the vaccine out to more people and far quicker than initially anticipated, Mr Johnson has said the aim is to have offered all adults the jab by the middle of the summer.
This is two months earlier than the government's previous target to offer all adults a first dose of the vaccine by September.
He said: "Hitting 15 million vaccinations was a significant milestone - but there will be no let up, and I want to see the rollout go further and faster in the coming weeks.
"We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us protect the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place."
However, he made the point that this would not be easy and that this should not give people the impression the pandemic was over.
He added: "But there should be no doubt - the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us."
The UK government is set to lay out its roadmap for a way out of lockdown tomorrow (22 February), with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation to publish its priority list for the second phase of the vaccine rollout in due course.
Reacting to Mr Johnson's new target, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth praised the work of the NHS throughout the pandemic.
He said: "The success so far of the vaccination rollout shows the true value of our incredible health service, and my thanks goes out to our NHS staff, armed forces and volunteers working hard to make this happen."
However, he urged the government to now look at bringing the date up even closer than July if possible.
He said: "Ensuring people are vaccinated as quickly as possible is the right thing to do. All adults getting a first dose by July is welcome, though if supplies increase this could be achieved earlier.
"We now urgently need Government to set out how they will prioritise those outside of the first nine groups - it's perfectly reasonable for teachers, police officers and other key workers who haven't been able to stay at home in the lockdown to ask when their turn will be.
"If Government aren't going to prioritise by occupation in the next phase they need to set out why.
"Vaccination must go hand-in-hand with measures to break transmission chains.
"That means paying people decent financial support to isolate, updating face coverings guidance and insisting in ventilation standards to ensure all workplaces are Covid secure."
Featured Image Credit: PA
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