Phase 2 of the Covid vaccine rollout programme has been revealed.
Health professionals are administering coronavirus vaccinations into the arms of millions of the most at risk people across the country under the first phase of the rollout.
And, as more and more people are vaccinated against the deadly virus, attention turns to who will be next in line to get the jab once the first priority groups have received a dose.
There have been calls for some occupations, such as teachers, to be put at the front of the queue with children scheduled to return to the classrooms on 8 March under the PM's roadmap.
Who will get the Covid vaccine next?
After everyone in the top nine groups have received a first dose of one of the approved Covid vaccines, phase two of the rollout will take place with three further cohorts confirmed.
All those aged 40-49 will be next to receive a Covid vaccine, followed by people aged 30-39, and then everyone aged 18-29 will be given a jab to protect against the deadly disease.
Currently, everyone aged 50 and over and others classed as the most vulnerable to infection from the virus are being offered a coronavirus vaccine in the UK.
When will Phase 2 of the rollout begin?
The government wants to offer a Covid vaccine to everyone in the first phase of the rollout - the top nine priority groups - by mid-April and all adults by the end of July.
Therefore, if supplies of the approved coronavirus vaccines are available then the second phase is likely to begin in the second half of April and conclude before August.
Why are these groups next to get the Covid vaccine?
Age and speed of the rollout looks to be the deciding factors in the approach with scientific advisors saying this would “provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time”.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) considered whether occupations, like teachers and police officers, should be vaccinated next, but concluded that the most effective way to prevent death and hospital admission is to carry on prioritising people by age.
The JCVI's Covid-19 chair, Professor Wei Shen Lim, said: "Vaccinations stop people from dying and the current strategy is to prioritise those who are more likely to have severe outcomes and die from Covid-19.
"The evidence is clear that the risk of hospitalisation and death increases with age.
"The vaccination programme is a huge success and continuing the age-based rollout will provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time, including to those in occupations at a higher risk of exposure."
When will teachers get the Covid vaccine?
Targeting occupations, such as teachers, would have been more complex to deliver and may slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some vulnerable people at higher risk for longer, according to the JCVI.
It also said that, operationally, simple and easy-to-deliver programmes are “critical for rapid deployment and high vaccine uptake”.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England (PHE), said: “Delivering a vaccination programme on this scale is incredibly complex and the JCVI’s advice will help us continue protecting individuals from the risk of hospitalisation at pace.
“The age-based approach will ensure more people are protected more quickly.
“It is crucial that those at higher risk – including men and BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic communities) communities – are encouraged to take the vaccine, and that local health systems are fully engaged and reaching out to under-served communities to ensure they can access the vaccine.”
Who is in the Phase 1 priority groups?
- Residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults
- People aged 80 years and over and frontline health and social care workers
- All those 75 years of age and over
- All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age)
- All those 65 years of age and over
- Adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group
- All those 60 years of age and over
- All those 55 years of age and over
- All those 50 years of age and over