United Kingdom

Major boost in Britain's battle to send coronavirus packing as 80% say they'll have jab

More than four-fifths of the public plan to have the coronavirus jab in a major boost for the country’s battle against Covid.

Government polling, obtained by the Daily Mail, reveals there has been a significant jump in the number willing to get vaccinated.

Crucially, the proportion is now above the level scientists say is needed to achieve herd immunity and stop the virus spreading. 

Government polls, obtained by the Daily Mail, revealed more than four-fifths of the public plan to have the coronavirus jab. Pictured: Health and social care staff given vaccine in Glasgow

However, it comes amid a growing row over the decision to extend the gap between first and second doses from three or four weeks to 12.

One doctor described it as an ‘unregulated and unlicensed trial’, while the British Medical Association has called for a maximum gap of six weeks between Pfizer jabs.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the decision to delay the second jab was essential to save more lives as the first jab gives the biggest amount of immunity.

Ministers have been using private polls to track changes in the public’s attitude towards the vaccine.

The proportion is now above the level scientists say is needed to achieve herd immunity and stop the virus spreading. Pictured: AstraZeneca jab is administered in Aylesbury

The proportion saying they will definitely have the jab has risen from around half to almost 70 per cent in the past three months, with upwards of 80 per cent now saying they are likely to have it.

The percentage adamant they do not want it has dwindled to single digits, with younger people among the least likely to say they want it.

A senior Government source said: ‘The UK started in a very strong position on vaccine confidence and we are building on that as the rollout progresses.’

£24m fund to win over wary ethnic minorities 

A £24million fund has been launched to counter misinformation about the vaccine and boost take-up among ethnic minority communities and older people.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the money was being targeted at those who are more likely to suffer long-term impacts from coronavirus.

It will go to 60 councils which have developed plans to improve communications with these groups.

Measures include helplines, school programmes, workplace engagement, phoning those in at-risk groups and training to help people provide information and advice.

Senior NHS figures have expressed concern that people in some black and Asian communities are reluctant to have the vaccine for religious reasons or concerns about ‘unethical’ experiments in the last century. 

Gipsy, Roma and traveller communities will also be offered support.

Mr Jenrick said: ‘False information about vaccines could cost lives. Today’s funding will help councils and community groups expand the excellent work already under way.’

Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, has said at least 70 per cent need to be protected from coronavirus for herd immunity to be achieved.

Three in four of the over-80s have received their first jab, Mr Hancock said yesterday.

But the Department of Health admitted fewer than two-thirds of care home residents have been vaccinated, thus failing to meet the Government’s target to give them all at least one jab by last night.

Over-80s are the age group most vulnerable to dying from coronavirus and Mr Hancock said getting such a large proportion protected was ‘absolutely brilliant progress’.

He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: ‘We’ve vaccinated more people in just the last three days than France has in the entire history of this disease.’ 

In that time, the UK vaccinated 1.38million. France has vaccinated 1million in total – less than have been given a jab in the Midlands.

Boris Johnson celebrated the progress, tweeting: ‘Since Monday 2.3million of you have come forward to be vaccinated when asked to by the NHS.

' This puts the running total at a fantastic 6.3million doses given right across the UK.’ 

In all, 6,353,321 had been given a first dose and 469,660 a second dose by the end of Saturday. 

At current rates, the UK’s entire 53.6million adult population could be vaccinated within 17 to 18 weeks – by the end of May, well ahead of the Government’s target of September.

On ensuring enough take up the offer of the vaccine, Mr Hancock told Times Radio his message to the public is: ‘Get vaccinated when the NHS calls you.’ 

He added: ‘The evidence is that a very high proportion of people want to get the vaccine... because people realise this is the way out, to protect yourself.’ 

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