All over-50s in England are now eligible for a Covid vaccine as NHS expands roll-out to final stage 

All over-50s in England are now eligible for the coronavirus vaccine, it was revealed.

The NHS England website says everyone ‘aged 50 and over’ can get the jab, after an update was made to its section for booking appointments.

Once all those in this age group – the last on the priority list – have received a dose, vaccinators can start giving shots to the over-40s, with estimates suggesting they could start getting invites by March 29 at the latest. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he was ‘delighted’ the roll-out was being expanded, adding they were ‘determined’ no one would miss their shots.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said they had passed ‘another milestone’ exactly 100 days after the first jab was given to grandmother Maggie Keenan.

More than 24.8million Britons have already received their first dose of the Covid jab, official figures reveal, and half of all adults are expected to have got a jab by Sunday.

Britain is in a race against time to vaccinate as many people as possible before it must start giving out second doses en masse.

Top scientists widened the gap between jabs to 12 weeks, saying the evidence suggested it could make them more effective and that it would allow them to protect as many people as possible quickly. 

It comes amid fears EU countries decision to temporarily suspend administering the AstraZeneca vaccine could cause some Britons to miss appointments. 

NHS England's website now says all those over-50 can get the coronavirus vaccine. (Pictured: A woman gets the jab in England)

NHS England's website now says all those over-50 can get the coronavirus vaccine. (Pictured: A woman gets the jab in England)

NHS England’s website now says all those over-50 can get the coronavirus vaccine. (Pictured: A woman gets the jab in England)

The website has been updated to show that everyone aged 50 and over can get the Covid jab

The website has been updated to show that everyone aged 50 and over can get the Covid jab

The website has been updated to show that everyone aged 50 and over can get the Covid jab

More than 24.4million Britons have already received a first dose of the Covid vaccine

MORE THAN ONE IN THREE ADULTS HAVE SIGNS OF COVID IMMUNITY IN THE UK 

More than a third of all adults in England now have Covid antibodies, according to official data that lays bare the success of the nation’s mammoth vaccination drive. 

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an estimated 34.6 per cent of people in England tested positive for the disease-fighting proteins at the start of March. 

The report — based on random blood testing of around 30,000 adults — also showed three-quarters of over-80s had some immunity against the killer infection at the start of the month. But the figure is likely to be even higher now because millions more have been vaccinated since the testing was conducted last month, and it takes about two weeks for the vaccines to kick in.

Antibodies are made by the immune system in response to falling ill or being vaccinated. Their presence in blood generally means someone has some at least some protection against a disease and won’t fall ill.  

But they are not the only part of the immune system. And they are known to fade over time, meaning many people who caught the virus in the first wave — and would, therefore, have some form of protection — no longer have measurable levels of the proteins.  

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The NHS England website was updated to say all clinics could now start offering doses to the over-50s .

But some clinics that are steaming ahead in the roll-out may already be offering doses to the over-50s, after NHS officials said they would not ‘stand in the way’ of faster areas.

Celebrating the swift roll-out, Mr Hancock said: ‘I’m delighted we are now expanding the roll-out and inviting those aged 50 and over to book their jab.

‘I’m determined no one should miss out on the chance to protect themselves and urge everyone who is eligible to come forward.’

Sir Stevens said: ‘Just 100 days since the NHS gave the world’s first Covid jab outside of clinical trials, our vaccine programme passes another milestone as we now invite everyone aged 50 and over to book their vaccination.’ 

The Joint Committe on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) set out nine priority groups – including NHS workers, clinically vulnerable, over-50s and care home residents – who would be first to receive the jab.

Once these have all received their first dose, however, the drive can continue down the age groups starting with offering jabs to all those 40 years old and over.

Wales started inviting over-50s for shots earlier this month and Scotland says it will start offering those in the 50-54 age group appointments from next week. 

MailOnline analysis shows Britain, which is working through the population by age, should be able to move on to the under-50s by March 29 at the latest, if it continues the current average of 280,000 first doses every day.

And if the rollout manages to double in speed – as officials hope will happen after a massive boost in supply from AstraZeneca — the under-50s target could be hit even earlier on March 20.

Ministers are aiming for at least 90 per cent of the adult population to take up the offer of a vaccine, equal to around 28.8million people in the top nine priority groups for vaccination, including all over-50s, health and care workers and people with long-term health conditions.

If the current rate is maintained, Britain will reach 50 per cent of its adult population – 26million out of 52m – by the end of this week.

NHS leaders a fortnight ago urged vaccination centres to prepare for bumper deliveries in the second half of March after a lull at the end of February and the start of this month.

Around 280,000 first doses were dished out every day last week, on average. But this was down from a figure of almost 450,000 at the start of February when the rollout was surging ahead.

At last week’s pace, it would take Britain just another 16 days to vaccinate all the 28.8million in the priority groups — the equivalent of 90 per cent of the top priority groups including everyone over the age of 50, adults with underlying conditions and NHS and care home workers.

If Britain was to double the current speed and hit 560,000 doses per day, the target would be reached on March 20. 

The goal would still be reached on March 23 if the speed was 400,000 a day, faster than last week but slower than the doubling that medics were told to expect. 

It comes amid reports British patients are cancelling appointments for their Covid vaccines because the EU’s mass revolt against AstraZeneca‘s jab over unproven blood clot fears has scared them off.

Doctors involved in the UK’s rollout say Britons due their second dose have called with concerns about the vaccine, despite the EU’s own drug regulator, as well as the UK’s and the World Health Organization all insisting it is safe. 

Health workers are afraid that Europe's row over the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will have knock-on effects on people in Britain (Pictured: A man gets the jab in west London)

Health workers are afraid that Europe's row over the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will have knock-on effects on people in Britain (Pictured: A man gets the jab in west London)

Health workers are afraid that Europe’s row over the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will have knock-on effects on people in Britain (Pictured: A man gets the jab in west London)

More than a dozen countries in Europe have stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine amid unproven concerns it is linked to blood clots

More than a dozen countries in Europe have stopped using AstraZeneca's vaccine amid unproven concerns it is linked to blood clots

More than a dozen countries in Europe have stopped using AstraZeneca’s vaccine amid unproven concerns it is linked to blood clots

‘THERE IS NO INDICATION THE ASTRAZENECA JAB CAUSES BLOOD CLOTS’, SAYS EU REGULATOR

EU regulators yesterday shot down the blood clot fears which have prompted 14 European countries to call a halt to AstraZeneca jabs, saying there is no evidence the vaccine causes dangerous side-effects.

The European Medicines Agency said it was ‘firmly convinced’ that injections with the AstraZeneca shot should continue, joining the WHO and the UK government in a full-throated defence of the vaccine amid fury at EU nations including France and Germany for suspending the jabs.

EMA safety experts say a ‘very small number of people’ have come down with blood disorders but there is ‘no indication’ that these were caused by the jab, which 11million people have already had in the UK.

‘We are still firmly convinced that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in preventing Covid-19 with its associated risk of hospitalisation and death outweigh the risk of these side effects,’ said EMA chief Emer Cooke.

Countries including France will now face pressure to resume AstraZeneca jabs after the EMA delivered its verdict and reiterated that the number of blood clots ‘seems not to be higher than that seen in the general population’.

Italy earlier admitted that its suspension of AstraZeneca jabs was a ‘political’ move while French doctors accused Emmanuel Macron of ‘giving in to panic’ and a German lawmaker said the ban could cause a ‘catastrophe’.

Germany sought to justify its move by saying that one particular kind of blood clot, a ‘sinus vein thrombosis’, had occurred seven times among the 1.6million people vaccinated when only around one case would be expected. By contrast, only four such cases have been identified in the UK out of 11million doses administered.

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One GP claimed up to 10 per cent of people scheduled for appointments were either not showing up, asking to cancel or double-checking which vaccine they were getting. 

NHS doctor and volunteer Dr Karan Raj claimed he was ‘inundated’ with people saying they were worried about it and Dr Mohan Sekeram, a GP in South London, said the international row has led to patients refusing the vaccine. 

The former chief of Britain’s vaccine regulator the MHRA, Sir Kent Woods, said European officials had ‘dented public confidence’ with their ‘disorderly’ reaction to the issue, and he described attempts to link the jab to clots as ‘a big jump’.

Doctors and officials warn that it is far more dangerous for people to not get vaccinated and even the EMA has urged people to keep taking the vaccine because blood clots aren’t actually any more common than usual.

Officials and scientists fear the knee-jerk reactions from Europe, which is now staring down the barrel of a third wave of Covid because of its own haphazard vaccination programme, risk derailing Britain’s attempts to vaccinate its way out of lockdown if people start to back out of getting their jabs. 

But Britons on the street yesterday said the row hadn’t put them off, calling it ‘scare-mongering’ and saying ‘the chances of getting hit by a bus are probably higher’.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock today urged people to keep getting the vaccine and said Britain must ‘keep calm and carry on jabbing’ if it wants to get life back to normal.

Dr Raj, who is an NHS surgeon and Imperial College London lecturer, said the hysteria in the EU was having a knock-on effect in the UK, particularly among younger people. 

‘I have been inundated in comments on my videos about people scared about the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots and worried about receiving first and second doses,’ he said.

‘They’ve seen the news from Europe about different countries suspending their vaccination and that has made them worried with some saying they won’t get a jab or will wait for a Pfizer one.

‘It’s one thing to have some sort of conspiracy that goes online and that becomes a vaccine myth which is worrying, but this is at a governmental, official level. Naturally people listen to this and are led more easily by these concerns because it’s at official level.

‘But the UK has delivered more of these jabs than the rest of Europe put together and hasn’t seen the concerns that have been highlighted in Europe so I thought it was the opportune moment to put out a video to emphasise that.’

Link hienalouca.com

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