This Friday, January 8, 2021, an employee is preparing to deliver the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the public near Manchester, England. Britain plans to vaccinate more than 15 million people by mid-February. To make sure the vaccines get to the right places at the right time, as well as the syringes, alcohol swabs, and protective gear required to administer them, the government has called the army. (AP Photo / Jon Super File)
The UK Health Secretary said Sunday that every adult in the country will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine by the fall as the UK ramps up its mass vaccination program amid a huge spike in infections and hospital admissions.
More than 600,000 people aged 80 and over will be receiving invitations this week to have the coronavirus shot down at new major vaccine centers across England. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said officials were “on track” to meet their goal of vaccinating about 15 million people in the most vulnerable groups by mid-February.
The vaccination campaign comes as the UK has seen a sharp surge in infections and a record number of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Many experts warn that the situation is worse than when the country was first locked last spring. The Office of National Statistics estimated that 1 in 50 people in England had the virus in the past week.
Daily reported deaths hit a record high of 1,325 on Friday, and a total of around 81,000 people have died after testing positive for COVID-19. That is the highest in Europe and is right behind the US, Brazil, India and Mexico.
Hancock said more than 200,000 people are vaccinated each day in England and that the entire adult population should be offered a sting by autumn.
This Tuesday, December 8, 2020, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson watches as nurse Rebecca Cathersides gives Lyn Wheeler the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy’s Hospital in London. Britain plans to vaccinate more than 15 million people by mid-February. To make sure the vaccines get to the right places at the right time, as well as the syringes, alcohol swabs, and protective gear required to administer them, the government has called the army. (AP Photo / Frank Augstein, pool, file)
“We have ordered over 350 million cans – they are not all here yet. We are rolling them out as soon as they are delivered,” he told the BBC. “But we will have enough to be able to offer a vaccine to everyone over the age of 18 by autumn.”
That is a distant hope for doctors, nurses and emergency services currently facing unprecedented pressures. Tracy Nicholls, the executive director of the College of Paramedics, said members have reported ambulances standing outside hospitals for up to nine hours and unable to transfer patients to emergency rooms.
“This year has put incredible pressure, especially because of the clinical presentation of patients that our members see. They are sicker,” she told Sky News on Sunday. “We are seeing delays in the delivery of the ambulance on a scale that we have never seen before.”
The seven new major vaccination centers join around 1,000 other locations across the country, including hospitals, general practitioners, and some drug stores.
This Tuesday, December 8th, 2020, a man enters the Royal Victoria Hospital, one of several hospitals across the UK operating the initial stages of a COVID-19 vaccination program in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Britain plans to vaccinate more than 15 million people by mid-February. To make sure the vaccines get to the right places at the right time, as well as the syringes, alcohol swabs, and protective gear required to administer them, the government has called the army. (AP Photo / Peter Morrison, File)
Officials hope that a swift introduction of mass vaccination will help bring Britain back to normal soon. The country entered a third national lockdown in early January that closed all non-essential businesses, schools, colleges and universities for at least six weeks.
On Friday, the UK approved the vaccine made by Moderna, making it the third to be approved for use in the country. The UK has so far vaccinated around 1.5 million people with the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.
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