More than half of all adults in the UK have received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the latest figures published today (Thursday 3 June) show, as the vaccination programme continues at unprecedented pace and scale.
Health services across the UK have now administered a total of 66,180,731 vaccines between 8 December and 2 June, including 39,758,428 people with first doses (75.5%) and 26,422,303 people with both doses (50.2%), ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against COVID-19 from a second dose.
A recent study by Public Health England (PHE) shows that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant first identified in India. Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant is similar after two doses compared to the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant dominant in the UK, and we expect to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalisation and death.
The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by 15 April and remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England has extended the offer of a vaccine to everyone over the age of 30.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“Shortly after vaccinating three quarters of adults with a first dose, I’m thrilled that we have now vaccinated over half of adults with the life-saving second dose.
“We know how important the second dose is to give protection, particularly against the Delta variant. That’s why we’ve brought forward appointments from 12 to 8 weeks for the most vulnerable people.
“I encourage everyone who is eligible to join the millions who have the fullest possible protection from this virus. Let’s roll up our sleeves and put this pandemic behind us, once and for all.”
Last week, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that Janssen’s COVID-19 vaccine was authorised for use in the UK. Earlier this year, the single-dose vaccine was shown to be 67 per cent effective overall in preventing COVID-19 infection and 85% effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalisation.
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 nine 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.
The government and its scientific experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, and will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary.
Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi said:
“Over half of UK adults have now been fully vaccinated and have maximum protection against this awful virus, which is heart-warming news.
“Everyone who has received their second dose can breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that they have ultimate protection from the virus and the new variants.
“We have come an incredibly long way in just under six months with our vaccination programme. But our work is not done yet. If you’ve had one dose, please come back for your second jab when you get the offer.”