London, May 23 (MNN) Health services across the UK have now administered around 60.6 million vaccines since December 8, including around 37.9 million people with their first dose (72 per cent) and 22.6 million with both doses (43 per cent), ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 from a second dose.
The Department of Health and Social Care said this comes as new real-world data shows the vaccines are reducing hospitalisations and deaths, saving more than 13,000 lives and preventing 39,100 hospitalisations in England by May 9.
The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by April 15 and remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
NHS England are sending texts inviting people to book a vaccination to those aged 32 and 33.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Shortly after vaccinating over 70 per cent of adults in the UK with a first dose, we have hit yet another incredible milestone with over 60 million doses delivered in total.”
To ensure people have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19, appointments for second doses have been brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for the remaining people in the top 9 priority groups who have yet to receive both doses.
The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval to counter the threat of new variants of concern.
Earlier this week, the government announced new decisive actions to halt the spread of the B1.617.2 variant of concern first identified in India.
Targeted activity is taking place to continue to drive vaccine uptake amongst eligible cohorts to protect the most vulnerable.
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “Today we hit yet another phenomenal achievement, with 60 million jabs in arms and over 4 in 10 people fully vaccinated with two doses.
“I want to pay tribute to the heroic work of NHS workers, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants across the whole country who have worked tirelessly to help make this happen.”