(Photo: REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo)

Over 70 per cent of the adults in the UK have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the latest figures showed on Wednesday (May 19).

Health services across the UK have now administered a total of 57.8 million vaccines between  December 8 and 18 May 18, including 36.9 million or 70.3 per cent people with their first dose and 20.8 million or 39.6 per cent with both doses, ensuring they have the strongest possible protection against Covid-19 from a second dose.

“The government met its target of offering a vaccine to the most vulnerable by April  15 and remains on track to offer a first dose to all adults by the end of July. NHS England will be sending texts inviting people to book a vaccination to those aged 37 and 36,” the government said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines are turning the tide against this pandemic and I’m incredibly proud the UK has one of the highest uptake rates in the world, with 90 per cent of people saying that they have had or will have the jab.

“Strong evidence shows the vaccines protect you and your loved ones from serious illness and they also reduce transmission, which is why we’ve introduced additional surge measures in the areas with rising cases of the variant first identified in India.”

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “This is a terrific achievement and is testament to the dedication of NHS workers, volunteers, local authorities and civil servants in every corner of the UK.

“We are doubling down on efforts to offer over-50s and the most vulnerable a second dose to maximise their protection against Covid-19, while continuing to progress first doses for people aged 36 and over.

“I urge everybody of all races, religions and genders to come forward for a jab as soon as you’re eligible.”

To ensure people have the strongest possible protection against Covid-19, appointments for second doses have been brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for the remaining people in the top 9 priority groups who have yet to receive both doses.

The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval to counter the threat of new variants of concern.

The government and its scientific experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, and will not hesitate to take additional action as necessary.

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