HEALTHY Brits in their 40s will get vaccinations from April with Matt Hancock hailing the “amazing job” done by The Sun’s Jabs Army.
Phase 1 of the ambitious Covid rollout of first doses — covering 32million Brits either aged 50 and over or those at high risk — should be completed by April 15.
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Carol Vorderman, 60, got her first Covid jab before she tearfully thanked volunteersCredit: INSTAGRAM
The programme — aimed at a countdown to opening the country fully on June 21 — will then switch to ten-year age bands.
But it confirms that experts have rejected calls to prioritise teachers and police officers.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation has recommended that vaccinations should continue by descending age, not occupation.
Advisers insist it is the fastest way to cut pandemic deaths and allow life to return to normal.
Phase 2 will start with those aged 40 to 49 being offered protection, then all those aged 30 and 39 before the 18 to 29-year-olds will be included.
The JCVI said the approach will “provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time”.
Professor Wei Shen Lim, the JCVI’s Covid-19 chairman, said bumping teachers up the queue would see them get their first dose only one week earlier.
And the jab would be of much greater benefit to older school workers than younger colleagues.
He added: “Vaccinations stop people from dying and the current strategy is to prioritise those who are more likely to have severe Covid outcomes.
“The evidence is clear that the risk of hospitalisation and death increases with age.”
But unions reacted with fury at the news their members would not be prioritised.
The Police Federation called it a “deep and damaging betrayal” which “will not be forgotten”.
Matt Hancock hailed the ‘amazing job’ done by The Sun’s Jabs ArmyCredit: AP:Associated Press
Staff at vaccination centres have been aided by Royal Voluntary Service heroes, including 50,000 from The SunCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
National chairman John Apter added: “There is real anger from all levels within policing about how we have been completely disregarded in this phase.”
Education groups claimed teachers have been “let down at every turn” during the pandemic.
Geoff Barton, from the Association of School and College Leaders, urged ministers to “reconsider” the decision.
But Downing Street defended the move, saying: “The JCVI is clear that giving priority to certain professions would not be as effective or as fast in reducing deaths and hospitalisations.”
Health Secretary Mr Hancock, meanwhile, praised the “unbelievably brilliant” effort and enthusiasm shown by volunteers.
Some 2,500 vaccination centres have been manned by NHS staff, retired nurses and GPs.
Education groups claimed teachers have been ‘let down at every turn’ during the pandemicCredit: Getty Images – Getty
The Police Federation said it was a ‘deep and damaging betrayal’ that officers would not be able to jump the vaccine queueCredit: AFP – Getty
They have been aided by Royal Voluntary Service heroes, including 50,000 from The Sun.
Mr Hancock said: “The Jabs Army marches on. They are doing an amazing job.
“I’m very grateful to everybody who has given up time.”
The vaccination push has resulted in Covid cases almost halving in a fortnight, as the R rate stays encouragingly low.
Prof Tim Spector, behind the ZOE symptom-tracking app, said: “With decisions made on data rather than dates, it feels we’re on track to lift restrictions sooner rather than later.”
New daily infections have begun to plateau at under 10,000.
Around one in every 145 Brits had Covid by the end of last week — a dramatic change from one in 80 two weeks before.
The death toll rose by 345 yesterday — with 8,523 new daily cases logged — meaning fatalities are down 35 per cent in a week.
But Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, has warned against relaxing too soon, saying: “I do worry that people think it’s all over.
“Just continue to maintain discipline and hang on just a few more months. We are so close.”
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