The UK government has reached its target of offering at least first vaccinations to the four groups of people in the UK seen as most vulnerable to coronavirus by mid-February, it has announced.
The vaccines minister, Nadhim Zahawi, announced the milestone on Twitter.
The government has set a series of targets for offering vaccinations to a series of groups, with the priority order set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation.
This set out that the top four priority groups, in order, were older care home residents and relevant care staff; people aged 80-plus and frontline health and care staff; those aged 75 and over; and those aged 70 and over.
The initial target was to offer first injections to care home residents and staff by the end of January, which was very nearly met, barring about 17,000 people. The next target was to complete the four groups by 15 February.
Ministers have subsequently said that the aim was to complete all nine of the top priority groups, which comprise phase one of the vaccination programme, before the beginning of May.
The next five groups are those aged 65-plus; those aged 16 to 64 with conditions that make them vulnerable; and then, in turn, people above 60, 55 and 50.
While no formal target has been set, the aim is to offer vaccinations to all adults by the autumn – although there might then need to be a third round of “booster” injections to combat vaccine resistance in new variants of Covid.
Ministers have said that so far, vaccine take-up in those aged 75 and over, and in care homes, has been more than 90%.