Clinically vulnerable people are now being offered the vaccine - this is who the group includes
The UK’s vaccination programme has moved to phase two after 15 million people received their first dose of the Covid jab.
Those aged over 65 and the clinically vulnerable are now being invited to be inoculated.
Letters are sent out to people who are eligible according to the nine-point vaccine priority list.
It comes as the government reached its target to invite everyone in the first four priority groups, including those aged 70 and over, the clinically extremely vulnerable and health and social care workers, to receive their first injection.
So, who exactly is classed as clinically vulnerable - and when will the next priority groups receive their coronavirus vaccine?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Who is classed as clinically vulnerable?
Around 1.2 million invitations have already been sent out to priority groups five and six - the over 65s and the clinically vulnerable - with more people expected to be offered the vaccine this week.
There are an estimated 7.3 million people aged 16 to 65 who are classed as at-risk from coronavirus due to having underlying health conditions.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) defines clinically vulnerable people as those with:
- Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
- Chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
- Down’s syndrome
- Severe and profound learning disability
- Solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
- People with specific cancers
- Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
- Asplenia and splenic dysfunction
- Morbid obesity
- Severe mental illness.
Adult carers of disabled people with any of these conditions, and younger adults in care homes, are also part of the clinically vulnerable group.
People in this group should be offered their first jab by the end of April, according to the government’s timeline.
Those who receive an invitation can choose from more than 100 large-scale vaccination centres or nearly 200 pharmacy services to receive their first dose.
When will the next priority groups receive the vaccine?
The UK Government’s plan is to vaccinate priority groups five to nine - 17 million people - by the end of April.
Including those aged 65 and over and the clinically vulnerable, the next groups to receive their jab are:
- People aged 60 and over
- People aged 55 and over
- People aged 50 and over.
Those groups will receive their first dose at the same time as many people in the first four groups receive their second dose.
After that, the government aims to vaccinate other vulnerable groups including essential workers like police officers and teachers.
All other adults in the UK should be given a vaccine by the autumn.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will also be tested on children as young as six as part of a new clinical trial that starts in February.
On the vaccine rollout, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The vaccination programme is continuing at an unprecedented speed… we are determined to keep up the momentum by expanding it even further.
“The NHS is doing everything it can to offer vaccines to the most vulnerable as quickly as possible, and today’s news will mean millions more at-risk individuals will be able to access a jab from next week.”