People aged 40-49 will be next in line to receive the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as everyone over 50 has received the jab.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is recommending that age is prioritised over all over factors because it will ‘provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time’.

After everyone in their 40s have been invited to get the vaccine, the rollout will proceed to those in the 30-39 age group and then those aged 18 to 29. Under 18s are not currently being vaccinated.

It means that teachers, police officers and other key workers will have to wait their turn, depending on their age. Unions had called for vaccinations for those in public-facing roles to be brought forward to give them protection sooner.

The JCVI said it considered whether these groups 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.

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It said modelling studies for phase two of the vaccination programme also indicate that the speed of vaccine deployment is the most important factor in helping prevent severe illness and death.

An independent committee must now decide whether to accept the recommendations as the Government works towards its target of getting the entire adult population vaccinated by the end of July.

A UK Government spokeswoman said the JCVI advice reflected the fact age remains ‘the strongest factor’ linked to death and hospital admission and ‘the speed of delivery (of vaccines) is crucial.’

Phase two of the vaccine rollout - who will be jabbed next?

After all the over 50s and most vulnerable have been invited to receive their vaccine, the rollout will proceed along the following age groups:

She added: ‘All four parts of the UK will follow the recommended approach, subject to the final advice given by the independent expert committee.

‘The UK Government remains on course to meet its target to offer a vaccine to all those in the phase 1 priority groups by mid-April, and all adults by the end of July.’

Professor Wei Shen Lim, Covid-19 chair for JCVI, 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.’

The JCVI said vaccination targeting occupational groups (such as teachers) would be more complex to deliver and may slow down the vaccine programme, leaving some vulnerable people at higher risk for longer.

It also said that, operationally, simple and easy-to-deliver programmes are ‘critical for rapid deployment and high vaccine uptake’.

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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.’

It comes as the Queen urged those hesitant about the coronavirus jab to get vaccinated.

The head of state, who was inoculated in January, said she understood that people who have never had a vaccine would find it ‘difficult’ but encouraged them to “think about other people rather than themselves’.

The Queen added: ‘Once you’ve had the vaccine you have a feeling of, you know, you’re protected, which is I think very important.’

As of yesterday, nearly 18.7 million people in the UK have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

But, ever since the Government set its target of vaccinating 15 million by mid-February, the pace of the roll out has slowed.

Earlier this week, the deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam blamed the drop off on ‘supply fluctuations.’

On Sunday, it was announced that more than two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 in England have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine just a week after invitations went out.

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There are more than 100 mass vaccination centres across the country and 200 pharmacies helping with the vaccine rollout alongside GP practices.

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