People under the age of 50 will have to wait and see whether the new Covid vaccine will be readily available for them. Officials have said that no decision has been made on how they should be offered it.
The first phase of rolling out the new vaccine will focus on older people who are at most risk.
The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said this would start with people in care homes, and eventually cover 99 per cent of people at risk of dying from Covid.
‘Phase two’ of roll out
Currently the priority list, known as ‘phase one’ is made up of four categories of people:
Those living and working in care homeThose over 80, then over 75, over 70, over 65 and over 60Adults with a health condition that puts them at greater riskThose aged over 55 and people over 50
The priority list is also subject to change, as some in the older age group may have a weak response to immunisation.
‘Phase two’ would involve young people, but will depend on the precise details of how the vaccines work.
The vaccine could work in different ways, possibly offering complete prevention from catching the virus, known as ‘sterilising immunity,’ or the vaccine could reduce the severity of the disease, and not stop people from spreading it.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, chairman of the JCVI, said, “We have not decided who else should be vaccinated beyond phase one. That's not to say that they shouldn't be vaccinated.
"We need more information on the vaccines, who they are good for and whether they protect against transmission or infection."
The new vaccine caught the world's attention recently, after Pfizer and BioNTech revealed their vaccine protects more than 90 per cent of people from developing Covid symptoms.
The vaccine is one of 11 currently in the final stages of testing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the news about the vaccine was an important step, but that “there are no guarantees.”
Drugs company Pfizer will supply the UK with 10 million doses of the vaccine by Christmas, if it is approved by regulators after its final safety tests in the coming days.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, has said that he is “absolutely convinced” the NHS will be able to handle the roll out of the vaccine from the start of next month.
He warned that it would not happen unless it is safe to do so, and used his ‘Mum Test’ as an example.
He said, “My mum is 78, she will be 79 shortly, and I have already said to her, ‘Mum, make sure when you are called you are ready, be ready to take this up, this is really important for you because of your age.’
“If I could, rightly and morally, be at the very front of the queue, then I would do so, but that clearly isn’t right and we have to target the most highest risk individuals in society.”
Yesterday, the UK became the first country in Europe to reach an official Covid-19 death toll of 50,000.