Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that the next two groups of people in line to receive one of the coronavirus vaccines available will start to be offered appointments from today.
Speaking at Monday's daily Downing Street press conference, Hancock announced that people who are aged 70 and over and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable as the rollout continues to the next two priority groups.
So far, the priority has been to vaccinate care home residents and staff and frontline healthcare and care staff.
That will still remain the top priority, but as capacity emerges it is hoped that vaccination sites will be able to contact people within those two new cohorts.
In areas where many care home residents and staff, frontline health and care workers, and over 80s have been given their first dose, they'll now be able to start offering appointments to over 70s in order to reach the Prime Minister's target of having offered vaccinations to the first four cohorts before mid-February.
In a statement released yesterday evening, Boris Johnson said: "Today is a significant milestone in our vaccination programme as we open it up to millions more people who are most at risk from Covid 19.
"We are now delivering the vaccine at a rate of 140 jabs a minute and I want to thank everyone involved in this national effort.
"We have a long way to go and there will doubtless be challenges ahead - but by working together we are making huge progress in our fight against this virus."
Hancock added: "Now that more than half of all over-80s have had their jab, we can begin vaccinating the next most vulnerable groups. Where an area has already reached the vast majority of groups 1-2, they can now start opening up the programme to groups 3-4.
"We are working day and night to make sure everyone who is 70 and over, our health and social care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable are offered the vaccine by the middle of February and our NHS heroes are making huge strides in making this happen.
"This measure does not mean our focus on getting care homes, healthcare staff and those aged 80 and over vaccinated is wavering - it will remain our utmost priority over the coming weeks to reach the rest of these groups."
During the same press conference, Hancock also confirmed that the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is the highest it has been during the pandemic, and that there were 37,535 cases recorded today.
He urged the public not to 'blow it' by keeping to the rules whilst the vaccine continues to be rolled out.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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