Under-50s urged to get vaccine so UK ‘can continue on path back to normality’
By PA Reporters
People aged 50 and under are being urged to get their Covid-19 vaccine so the UK can “continue on the path back to normality”.
The push for people to take up jab offers comes as restrictions ease in Wales and Scotland, and as Britain sends more than 600 pieces of urgently-needed medical equipment to India following a devastating surge in coronavirus cases.
A UK Government campaign – called “every vaccination gives us hope” – sees the launch of a TV advert which will showcase the health workers and volunteers involved in the vaccination rollout across the UK.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the campaign will predominantly be aimed at people under the age of 50 who will be offered their first dose, as well as the over-50s who are booked in for their second dose, to encourage vaccine uptake.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines are helping us get back to doing the things we have missed – they protect you and those around you.
“This campaign is a remarkable and poignant reminder of everything we’ve been through as a country and everything we have to look forward to – as well as the tireless efforts of our volunteers, NHS heroes and the British people.
“Every vaccination gives us hope and I urge everyone to take up the offer of a vaccine when it comes, as we continue on the path back to normality.”
From Monday in England, people aged 44 will be invited to book their jab, with NHS England saying around half a million 44-year-olds will receive a text inviting them to get their jab through the national booking service.
It is the first time that the vaccine rollout in England has been extended by a single year group – previously the age-based approach to the programme had offered the jab to people in age brackets.
The NHS in England said it will set out plans to offer a Covid vaccine to those aged 40 to 43 in coming days “in line with JCVI advice and as supply allows”.
In Northern Ireland, the vaccination programme will fully open to all those aged between 35 and 39 from Monday.
Over the weekend, figures confirmed more than half of the UK’s total population has received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Government data up to April 24 shows that of the 46,253,754 jabs given in the UK so far, 33,666,638 were first doses – a rise of 142,215 on the previous day.
Meanwhile, in Wales, Monday will see pubs, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses allowed to offer outdoor service again.
Organised outdoor activities will also be permitted for up to 30 people. as well as outdoor wedding receptions for the same number, while outdoor visitor attractions can open.
It comes after other restrictions were eased on Saturday, allowing any six people to meet up outdoors.
In Scotland, cafes, restaurants and beer gardens can open from Monday, along with non-essential shops, gyms, swimming pools, libraries and museums.
Hospitality will need to close at 8pm indoors, with alcohol only allowed to be served outside.
People will be able to meet others for a meal or drink, with up to six people from two households allowed to socialise indoors in a public place.
Meanwhile, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the first of nine plane-loads of life-saving kit – including ventilators and oxygen concentrators – will arrive in New Delhi early on Tuesday.
The move follows discussions with the Indian government, with further consignments due be dispatched later this week.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The aim is to provide the support that the Indians need at their hour of need, really, judging by the distressing scenes we’ve seen in many of the hospitals in India.
“There’ll be a series of other shipments. The first one goes out today and we’re in ongoing discussions with the Indian government about further things that they may or may not need.
“We want to provide them all the support because they’re close friends, increasingly important partners, but also we need this kind of international collaboration if we’re going to get through the pandemic.
“We’re not going to be safe until we’re all safe.”
For the fourth straight day on Sunday, India set a global daily record for new infections, with another 349,691 confirmed cases.
It took the country’s total to more than 16.9 million, behind only the United States.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour if the UK should do more to help, Conservative MP Damian Hinds said: “Yes, of course. In all of this, we need to work together because we are ultimately one world and it is the nature of a pandemic that it’s only gone when it’s gone everywhere, and so absolutely we need to work together on that.
“And, yes indeed, on the vaccine programme as well. Because we do have 400 million doses of the various formulations of vaccine, we are in a good position to help.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had been due to visit India this week before the latest deadly wave of the pandemic forced him to cancel, said the UK will do whatever it can to support the country through the crisis.