Responding to the news that all over-50s can now book their COVID-19 jab, Ruth Rankine, director of the NHS Confederation’s PCN Network, said: “The NHS has administered more than 20 million vaccinations in England alone, which is an incredible achievement in light of the fact it has done so alongside delivering other services, including seeing 1.3 million people in hospital for non-COVID reasons and carrying out more than 21 million appointments in general practice in January when the winter wave of COVID infections was at its peak.
“The remarkable pace of the vaccination rollout has meant transmission has begun to fall, allowing society to begin to open up, but we will still need a slow and steady approach to the easing of national lockdown restrictions so that we can maintain this progress. Of course, while the programme is moving to the next age cohort, it is still important for those in the first cohorts to come forward for their vaccination if they haven’t already done so.
“Our members understand why people may be concerned about the decisions of some European countries temporarily to suspend the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but we would encourage those who are worried to heed the advice of the World Health Organisation and our independent regulator, the MHRA, which have said the rollout should continue. As restrictions are relaxed, increasing uptake of the vaccination is vital.”