Over 18s ‘to be offered jab within weeks’ as Indian variant rises

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Ministers are preparing to offer vaccines to all over-18s within weeks, according to new reports.

Currently, only people aged 30 and older are being invited for their first doses.Health bosses are also focusing on giving older people their second jabs.

However, the Daily Mail reports that ministers are gearing up to offer jabs to all over-18s 'within weeks' to help combat the spread of the Indian variant.

Similarly, Dominic Harrison, director of public health in Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire, called for teenagers to be vaccinated.

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Mr Harrison told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: "We desperately need the UK Government, the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] to pass the Pfizer vaccine as safe and effective for that age group.

"Now the USA, Canada, Singapore and the European Union have all in the last week said that's Pfizer BioNTechvaccine is safe and effective for 12 years and above and I just hope the UK Government can get on with passing that, assuming that they agree that we could then get into rapid vaccination for that cohort, before the end of term.

"Because that would help not just with protecting the whole population through an increased number of people vaccinated, but reducing transmission in that group."

It comes after the news that the UK is on the brink of reaching the milestone of three-quarters of adults receiving their first Covid-19 vaccine, amid debate over ending restrictions.

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It is expected to come the day after no deaths within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 were reported for the first time since July 30 last year.

Latest Government data suggests that so far, more than 39.4 million people had received their first dose – equating to 74.9% of adults.

Downing Street has indicated that Boris Johnson still sees nothing in the data to suggest the plan to end all legal lockdown restrictions in England on June 21 will need to be delayed.

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Asked about the Prime Minister's plans amid warnings over the spread of the Indian variant, a No 10 spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that we haven't seen anything in the data but we will continue to look at the data, we will continue to look at the latest scientific evidence as we move through June towards June 21."

The latest death tally is likely to feed into ministers' considerations on easing restrictions.

They will also consider that the announcement on zero deaths comes after a bank holiday weekend, so there may be a delay in the reporting of the figures.

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