People aged between 65 to 69 can now have a Covid-19 vaccine in England if locals GPs have done all they can to reach those at higher risk, NHS England has said.
Some parts of England have already begun giving over-65s with their first dose of the vaccine after successfully reaching everyone in the top four priority groups – including the over-70s and care home residents – who wanted a jab.
Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group is among those that has invited over-65s to receive a vaccine, while in Shropshire, Coventry, York and Hampshire some vaccines have been given already.
NHS England said regions could now move on to people aged 65 and over if every effort has been made to contact and vaccinate those in groups one to four, and if there are supplies.
Once over-65s have been vaccinated, they will then be followed by all those over 16 with underlying health conditions (group six), then the over-60s, the over-55s and the over-50s.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is due to recommend which groups should then follow, with pressure for teachers and other frontline workers such as police officers to be on the list.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said some over-50s there have already begun to be contacted and offered a vaccination.
Cumulative Covid-19 vaccinations in the UK
(Image: Press Association Images)
A Welsh Government spokesperson said it was still proactively contacting anyone in groups one to four “who may have changed their minds or may have been ill or may have, for some reason, not been able to take up the appointment”.
Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she expects many in the 65-69 age group to have had their first vaccine by the middle of this month.
And in Northern Ireland, people aged 65-69 have been able to book a Covid-19 vaccine at seven regional centres since the end of January.
However, some GPs have expressed frustration at being told they cannot move on to the next groups.
A GP in Kent, with the Twitter handle @yvettedoc50, suggested last night she had run out of people to vaccinate but had been stopped from moving on to other groups.
She said reasons for those in the top four groups not receiving their vaccine included “choice/transport issues/Covid symptoms etc”.
She added: “This shouldn’t be stopping us.”
The Guardian also reported that doctors at the Francis Crick Institute in London needed more groups to vaccinate.
It said they were providing first doses at a rate of 100 a day when they have capacity for 1,000.
It comes as the UK economy shrunk at its fastest rate since the 1920s last year, as the pandemic forced thousands of businesses to remain closed for several months. GDP dropped by 9.9%.
Elsewhere, the online booking portal for the hotel quarantine system went down shortly after it was launched on Thursday afternoon, and was not expected to be up and running again until around 10am on Friday.