All adults to be offered a Covid-19 jab by July 31
- Credit: PA
All adults in the UK should be offered a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July, the prime minister has pledged.
Boris Johnson said the accelerated rollout would help protect the most vulnerable sooner and enable the easing of some restrictions.
Adults aged 50 and over - as well as those with underlying health conditions - will be offered a vaccine by April 15 under the expedited plans.
By July 31, all adults should have been offered a jab - though the order of priority for those under 50 has yet to be outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Ministers had set a target to offer vaccines to all adults by September, with an aim to reach all those aged 50 and over in the first nine JCVI priority groups by May.
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The new targets will be seen as a sign of increasing confidence within Government that the vaccine supply will remain steady over the coming months.
The government met its ambition to offer jabs to all those in the top four priority groups - adults aged 70 and over, frontline health and social care workers and the most clinically vulnerable - by February 15.
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More than 16.8 million people have now received their first dose of a vaccine at one of the 1,500 vaccination sites across the country, and almost 600,000 have received their second.
The accelerated rollout will fuel calls for coronavirus restrictions to be eased sooner, but Mr Johnson insisted the route out of lockdown would be "cautious and phased".
The prime minister will spend the weekend finalising his road map for relaxing the stringent measures before announcing the plans to MPs on Monday.
He said: "Hitting 15 million vaccinations was a significant milestone - but there will be no let up, and I want to see the rollout go further and faster in the coming weeks.
"We will now aim to offer a jab to every adult by the end of July, helping us protect the most vulnerable sooner, and take further steps to ease some of the restrictions in place.
"But there should be no doubt - the route out of lockdown will be cautious and phased, as we all continue to protect ourselves and those around us."
Downing Street said the JCVI would publish its priority list for the second phase of the vaccine programme in due course, amid calls for teachers and other frontline workers to be prioritised.
Meanwhile, more than two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 have had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine just a week after invitations went out, NHS England has said.
Around 460,000 people aged 64 will now be called forward to receive their jab, as the health service urged people aged over 65 to respond to their vaccine letter if they have not already done so.
Some parts of England had already begun vaccinating the over-65s before the invitations were sent out, after they reached everyone in the top four priority groups who wanted a jab.