CORONAVIRUS

UK Speeds Up Vaccinations: All Adults Get 1st Jab By July 31

Feb 21, 2021, 10:51 AM
FILE (Photo by Andy Stenning - Pool/Getty Images)...
FILE (Photo by Andy Stenning - Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Stenning - Pool/Getty Images)

LONDON (AP) — The British government declared Sunday that every adult in the country should get a first coronavirus vaccine shot by July 31, at least a month earlier than its previous target, as it prepared to set out a “cautious” plan to ease the U.K.’s lockdown.

The previous aim was for all adults to get a jab by September. The new target also calls for everyone 50 and over and those with an underlying health condition to get their first of two vaccine shots by April 15, rather than the previous date of May 1.

The makers of the two vaccines that Britain is using, Pfizer and AstraZeneca, have both experienced supply problems in Europe. But U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that “we now think that we have the supplies” to speed up the vaccination campaign.

The early success of Britain’s vaccination effort is welcome good news for a country that has had more than 120,000 coronavirus deaths, the highest toll in Europe. More than 17.5 million people, a third of U.K. adults, have had at lease one vaccine shot since inoculations began on Dec. 8.

Britain is delaying giving second vaccine doses until 12 weeks after the first, rather than three to four weeks, in order to give more people partial protection quickly. The approach has been criticized in some countries — and by Pfizer, which says it does not have any data to support the interval — but it is backed by the U.K. government’s scientific advisers.

News of the new vaccine targets came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson met Sunday with senior ministers to finalize a “road map” out of the national lockdown. He plans to announce details in Parliament on Monday.

Faced with a dominant virus variant that scientists say is both more transmissible and more deadly than the original virus, Britain has spent much of the winter under a tight lockdown. Bars, restaurants, gyms, schools, hair salons and all nonessential shops have been closed; grocery stories, pharmacies and takeout food venues are still open.

The government has stressed that economic and social reopenings will be slow and cautious, with nonessential shopping or outdoor socializing unlikely before April. Many children will go back to school beginning on March 8 and nursing home residents will be able to have one visitor from the same date.

Johnson’s Conservative government has been accused of reopening the country too quickly after the first lockdown in the spring. The number of new confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all declining in February but remain high, and Johnson says his reopening road map will follow “data, not dates.”

But he is under pressure from some Conservative lawmakers, who argue that restrictions should be lifted quickly to revive an economy that has been hammered by three lockdowns in the last year.

John Edmunds, a member of the government’s scientific advisory group, said British hospitals are still treating almost 20,000 coronavirus patients, half the January peak but almost as much as the height of the first surge last spring.

“If we eased off very rapidly now, we would get another surge in hospitalizations” and deaths, he told the BBC.

Edmunds said there is added uncertainty because of new virus variants, including one identified in South Africa that may be more resistant to current vaccines.

Hancock told Sky News that the government would take a “cautious but irreversible approach” to reopening the economy.

Despite the success of Europe’s fastest vaccination campaign, the U.K. government has been accused of failing to protect disabled people, who are among the most at-risk from coronavirus.

The Office for National Statistics has found that 60% of people who died with coronavirus in England in 2020 had a physical or mental disability. But many disabled people, apart from those with “severe or profound” learning disabilities, have not been put in a priority group for vaccination.

Jo Whiley, a well-known BBC radio DJ, on Sunday highlighted the plight of her 53-year-old sister Frances, who has a learning disability. Whiley said her sister contracted the coronavirus in an outbreak at her care home, whose residents had not been vaccinated.

Whiley said her sister had finally been offered a shot of vaccine — but it came too late.

“She was actually called in for her vaccine last night. My mum got a message to say that she could get vaccinated, but it’s too late, she’s fighting for her life” in the hospital, Whiley told the BBC. “It couldn’t be crueller.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

RSV and flu...
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Flu season intensifies, holiday gatherings could make it worse

Americans gathered for Thanksgiving last week amid a flu season that's worse than any has been in more than a decade, and experts continue to urge caution as multiple respiratory viruses circulate at high levels nationwide.
22 hours ago
Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov....
Jessie Yeung and CNN's Beijing bureau

Rare protests are spreading across China. Here’s what you need to know

From Shanghai to Beijing, protests have erupted across China in a rare show of dissent against the ruling Communist Party.
22 hours ago
Police officers block Shanghai's Urumqi Road on Sunday. (Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)...
CNN's Beijing bureau and Nectar Gan

Protests erupt across China in unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy

Protests erupted across China throughout the weekend, including at universities and in Shanghai where hundreds chanted "Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!"
2 days ago
Salt Lake City Police at the University of Utah Hospital due to a possible bomb threat. (Salt Lake ...
Michael Houck

Police: Unattended bag led to bomb squad response at U of U Hospital

Salt Lake City Police responded to a possible bomb threat at the University of Utah hospital Tuesday afternoon.
14 days ago
Evusheld...
Elizabeth Cohen and Naomi Thomas, CNN

COVID-19 medicine for immunocompromised patients is losing effectiveness

Judy Salins considers herself a smart, empowered patient, but until this week, she had no idea that the medicine she takes to defend herself against Covid-19 isn't protecting her as well as it used to.
18 days ago
Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also...
Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Paxlovid reduces risk of long Covid, Veterans Affairs study finds

Paxlovid, the antiviral pill that reduces the risk of hospitalization and death from Covid-19, also reduces the risk of long Covid, according to a new study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
23 days ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
UK Speeds Up Vaccinations: All Adults Get 1st Jab By July 31