United Kingdom

Who is next on the list for Covid vaccines - and how will I be invited to book an appointment?

Over two thirds of UK adults have now received a first dose of the vaccine as the vaccination roll out continues to make progress. 

A total of 35,587,348 people have now received a first dose of the vaccine as of May 11, while over 18m million have had their second jab.

Following the success of the roll out, Boris Johnson set out the next step of the government's roadmap on May 10, which will lead to a further lifting of restrictions on Monday, May 17.

As of May 13, people aged 38 and 39 can book their Covid jab. However, people under the age of 40 will be advised to have an alternative jab to AstraZeneca, the Government’s advisers have said. 

The joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that they instead be offered a Pfizer of Moderna jab out of "an abundance of caution".

It follows a decision by the committee in April to steer adults aged 18 to 29 away from the Oxford-designed AstraZeneca jab because the risk of severe harm from Covid does not outweigh the small risk of dangerous blood clotting linked to the vaccine.

The JCVI said there is an "extremely small risk" of people suffering blood clots after having the jab, but the risk of serious illness with Covid-19 also drops for younger people as infection rates fall across the country.

Following the change in the advice, those below the age of 40 will book their jabs in the same way, and be given an appointment without the type of vaccine being specified.

Officials said that while the intention is to administer Pfizer or Moderna, it was possible that some of those in younger groups might be offered AstraZeneca on the day, in the event of any delays in supplies. 

Three vaccines are now in use, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, with an expert source saying that they anticipate approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the UK shortly.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is currently appraising the jab and the review is said to be at an advanced stage.

The UK has also secured another 60 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, the Health Secretary confirmed on Apr 28, who stated that this supply will be used for booster jabs for the vulnerable from the autumn.

With a view to the future, Covid treatment tablets could be taken at home by autumn, thanks to a new government antivirals taskforce. However, Boris Johnson has warned against complacency when adhering to Covid guidelines, as the government continues to look beyond the vaccine rollout.

It comes as the founder of NBioTech, Prof Ugur Sahin, has said that a modified version of the Pfizer vaccine could be available for children aged 12 and over by June. 

Who will receive the vaccine, and when?

As of May 13, people aged 38 and 39 will be invited to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Those aged 30-37 and 18-29 will be invited next, with the Government aiming to have all adults vaccinated by the end of July, raising hopes for the possibility of outdoor events and holidays in August.   

However, people under 40 will be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the link with blood clots.

JCVI members had previously said that if infection rates were high they would recommend that 30-somethings take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A government source told The Independent that the decision has been allowed due to the flexibility of the vaccines rollout.

"Because prevalence of Covid is low and given the strength of the programme, that means we're in a position to act with an abundance of caution and offer a different vaccine to the younger groups,” the source said.

The Deputy Chairman of the JCVI has also stated that mixing vaccines could improve protection against coronavirus. Prof Harnden has said that different vaccine types could coalesce to boost the immune system and provide a longer-lasting response.

It comes as Pfizer has asked the UK regulator to approve its vaccine for use in young teenagers as US watchdogs signalled their approval for the step.

The pharmaceutical giant has formally asked the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for permission to use the jab in 12 to 15-year-olds – one of the age groups most responsible for spreading the virus.

Given the organisation's fast-track review process, it is likely the vaccine would be approved well before the end of July, the point at which the Government aims to have offered a jab to all adults.

Previously, a study by Pfizer suggested that its Covid-19 jab is "100 per cent effective and well tolerated" among children aged 12 to 15. 

Phase One of the vaccination programme, which was completed on Apr 13, involved offering the vaccine to the top nine JCVI priority groups and everyone over 50, estimated to include 32m people.

Health care workers and adults on the learning disabilities register were also invited to get a coronavirus vaccine, along with over 16s-sharing a household with someone who is immunosuppressed. 

Adults who are immunosuppressed have a weaker immune system to fight infections naturally and are more likely to have poorer outcomes after contracting coronavirus. This includes those with blood cancer, HIV or those who are having immunosuppressive treatment.

What about the new variant of coronavirus? Will the vaccine still protect us?

The emergence of new Covid-19 strains, such as the South African, Indian and Brazilian variants, have threatened to undermine the vaccine and testing gains of recent months.

More surge testing is to be deployed in another part of London after a "small number" of South African variant cases were discovered as of May 10.

Everyone aged 16 and over in North Kensington is being urged to come forward for a PCR test, whether or not they have symptoms, council and NHS officials said. The confirmed cases self-isolated as required and their contacts have been identified, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.

It come as a coronavirus strain first detected in India has been escalated to a "variant of concern", Public Health England (PHE) confirmed on May 7, after clusters were reportedly found in several areas of England.

The decision to reclassify the variant is based on evidence which suggests it is at least as transmissible as a strain known as the Kent variant, PHE said.

PHE said there is currently "insufficient evidence" to indicate that any of the variants recently detected in India cause more severe disease or make the vaccines available any less effective.

But the "lethal danger" posed by coronavirus variants could lead to a new wave of disease worse than that endured by the UK in January, Boris Johnson has warned.

The Prime Minister stressed the need for caution and vigilance as lockdown eased, highlighting particular concern about the Indian variant which experts believe could be even more transmissible than the Kent strain which swept across the UK.

Even without the prospect of a deadly new variant which could escape the vaccines currently being used, Mr Johnson said there was a "high likelihood" of a seasonal surge in coronavirus cases in the winter.

India has been added to the government's 'red list', which prevents people travelling from the country to enter the UK. It is too early to speculate whether the variant will be effective against the vaccines in use in the UK.

Scientists have also found that the Kent coronavirus variant is mutating to mimic the South African variant, which could render current vaccines less effective.

However, research by Public Health England (PHE) suggests that the Kent variant is no more deadly than the original strain of Covid, after previous analysis suggested it was 30 per cent more deadly.

In more promising news, vaccines against new coronavirus variants should be ready by October, the team behind the Oxford University/AstraZeneca jab said, after The Telegraph revealed that Britain would have the capacity to vaccinate the entire nation against new coronavirus strains within four months, once a new “super-factory” opens this year.

In an interview with The Telegraph, Mr Zahawi revealed over-70s will start to get booster Covid vaccines from September to protect them from new virus variants. The plan will see some people have three doses within the first 10 months of the jabs being in use.

The first booster doses will go to people in the top four priority groups for the original rollout – those aged over 70 as well as frontline NHS and social care workers.

US biotech firm Moderna has seen some promising results following a trial of a "tweaked" Covid vaccine. Results from the 40-person trial found that a third dose of the Moderna vaccine or an experimental new candidate increased immunity against variants first found in Brazil and South Africa. The new candidate vaccine, a variant-specific booster jab, proved even more effective against variants than the standard Moderna. 

Military labs are to quadruple testing in the battle against Covid variants, it was confirmed on May 5. Ministers have pledged a £30m investment to facilitate weekly testing at the military laboratory Porton Down. This is part of government planning to safeguard the progress of the roadmap out of lockdown and the future of public health moving forward.

Have you had the Covid vaccine or are you due to get one? We want to hear from you. Get in touch with us here.

Why is there a delay between the first and second jabs?

Regulators have said the key to success will be to administer two full doses between four to 12 weeks apart, in order to give as many people the initial dose of the vaccine as possible, which offers some protection from the virus.

A study found a single dose of the Oxford vaccine was 76 per cent effective in fending off infection between 22 days and 90 days post-injection, rising to 82.4 per cent after a second dose at that stage. Researchers involved in the trial said the findings support the decision made by the UK to extend the interval between initial doses and booster doses of the shot to 12 weeks. 

While a different study found that a single dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provided a "very high" level of protection from Covid-19 after just 21 days, without the need for a second "top-up" vaccination.

The UEA study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, looked at data from Israel where the vaccine has been rolled out. Scientists found the vaccine becomes 90 per cent effective after 21 days - supporting UK plans to delay the timing of a second jab.

It comes as one Covid vaccine cuts transmission of virus by up to half, according to the latest data revealed by Public Health England (PHE) on April 27.

Those who had received the Pfizer jab were 49 per cent less likely to transmit the virus to others in their households, while transmission fell by 38 per cent for those given the AstraZeneca vaccine.

While it is not yet known how long immunity lasts beyond 21 days without a second dose, researchers believe it is "unlikely" to majorly decline during the following nine weeks.

Read more: From transmission to efficacy, the Oxford, Pfizer and other Covid vaccines compared

How will I be invited to get the vaccine? 

The NHS will contact you when you are eligible for the vaccine and you will be invited to make an appointment.

If you are registered to a GP, you will be contacted by your surgery either over the phone, by text, email or post, in order to book in to receive a vaccine at your local vaccination centre.

You can still register at a GP surgery if you are not already registered to one, and it is advised that you make sure that your contact details are up to date to ensure that there are no delays. 

However, if you are over 50 and have still not taken up an offer of the vaccine, the government urges you to contact your GP.

Alternatively, you can check whether you are eligible and find an appointment by using the NHS vaccination booking service.

Three modes of delivery

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there would be “three modes of delivery”, with hospitals and mass vaccination centres along with pharmacists and GPs offering the jab.

In total, 250 active hospital sites, 89 vaccination centres, and around 1,200 local vaccination sites - including primary care networks, community pharmacy sites and mobile teams – have been set up to ensure every at-risk person has easy access to a vaccination centre, regardless of where they live.

Sites across the country, including the ExCel in London, Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester and Epsom Downs Racecourse in Surrey, have been transformed into vaccine hubs and have been administering vaccines from January 25.

The Prime Minister has also announced the formation of an 'antivirals taskforce', which will be launched with the aim of developing at least two effective treatments for Covid by the end of the year.

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