Milestone reached as figures show 15m people have been fully vaccinated against Covid

In a major milestone, more than 15million of the most vulnerable Britons have been fully vaccinated against Covid.

The over-70s and the clinically vulnerable have had a second jab, offering maximum immunity from the virus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night.

With the UK set to exceed 50million vaccinations today, ministers and health officials hailed the ‘incredibly important’ step towards Britain’s return to normality.

As infection levels and hospital admissions continued to fall, they said it was further evidence that vaccines were ‘the way out of the pandemic’.

Boris Johnson thanked everyone who had come forward to get their jabs, tweeting: ‘15million people across our United Kingdom have received two doses of a Covid vaccine. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. Please keep coming forward to get your jabs to give yourself maximum protection from the virus.’

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) said that the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable have had a second jab, offering maximum immunity from Covid-19

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) said that the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable have had a second jab, offering maximum immunity from Covid-19

Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) said that the over-70s and the clinically vulnerable have had a second jab, offering maximum immunity from Covid-19 

A further 372,304 second jabs were administered on Saturday, bringing the total to 15,329,617, according to Government data.

There were also 143,175 first doses, taking the number of initial jabs to 34,505,380 – or a total of 49,834,997 for first and second doses.

Mr Hancock said he was ‘delighted’ by the news and thanked the ‘thousands of people’ who gave up their bank holiday to administer vaccines, with more than 500,000 on Saturday alone.

He added: ‘That’s the 15million people who are most vulnerable to Covid across the country. Reaching this milestone is incredibly important because this helps to keep all those 15million safe, but it also keeps those around them safe, their loved ones. And, of course, for all of us this is the way out of the pandemic.’

Infection levels continue to fall, with 1,671 testing positive for coronavirus yesterday, down from 1,712 a week ago.

Fourteen deaths were recorded yesterday, making a weekly average of 110, down 31 per cent on a week ago.

With the UK set to exceed 50million vaccinations today, ministers and health officials hailed the ‘incredibly important’ step towards Britain’s return to normality (pictured: stock image of man receiving the Pfizer vaccine in Derby)

With the UK set to exceed 50million vaccinations today, ministers and health officials hailed the ‘incredibly important’ step towards Britain’s return to normality (pictured: stock image of man receiving the Pfizer vaccine in Derby)

With the UK set to exceed 50million vaccinations today, ministers and health officials hailed the ‘incredibly important’ step towards Britain’s return to normality (pictured: stock image of man receiving the Pfizer vaccine in Derby) 

On Saturday, seven Covid deaths and 1,907 new cases were reported.

There are 1,451 patients in hospital with the virus, down from a peak of 39,248 in mid January.

Now that the most vulnerable have been vaccinated, the number of cases and deaths is expected to remain low, with over-85s more than 15 times as likely to be hospitalised with Covid than those aged 18 to 64.

It comes days after a major study found that even those who have had only one dose of the vaccine account for just 1 per cent of hospital patients.

Meanwhile, random testing by the Office for National Statistics has found infections ‘approaching zero’ among over-70s thanks to the vaccine drive.

Despite the easing of lockdown, only one person in 1,000 has coronavirus, down 40 per cent in a week.

Sir Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, said: ‘The biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues to break records thanks to careful planning and… April has seen a focus on second doses.

‘It is vital that when it is your time, everybody gets their second dose for stronger and longer lasting protection.’

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘Every vaccine is another step closer to normality. Vaccines are saving lives and having a significant effect on hospitalisations and transmission rates. I encourage everyone to secure this protection for yourself and your loved ones.’

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