For the first time, all adults are now eligible to get an appointment for their first jab
Everyone aged 18 and over will be able to book their Covid-19 vaccine in England from Friday.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the vaccination programme “an incredible achievement” as he made the announcement during a speech.
It comes as the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE) shows that Covid-19 case rates in all regions of England are continuing to increase.
PHE said case rates in England among all age groups are continuing to rise and the highest rate is among 20 to 29-year-olds, with 195.9 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to June 13, up week-on-week from 123.6.
This is also the age group to see the biggest week-on-week increase.
The second highest rate is among 10 to 19-year-olds, up from 100.3 to 143.3, while for people aged 60 and over the rate is 14.3, up slightly from 10.6.
Speaking at the NHS Confed Conference, Mr Hancock said: “As of this afternoon we have given a first dose of vaccine to four out of every five adults in the United Kingdom.
“And the speed of deployment means that tomorrow we can open vaccination to everyone over the age of 18.
“I think it’s an incredible achievement on the vaccination side.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi tweeted: “Fantastic news – everyone aged 18 and over can book their Covid-19 vaccine from tomorrow.
“I urge everybody to take up the offer as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones. We can beat this pandemic one jab at a time.”
In Northern Ireland and Wales, the Covid-19 vaccination programme is already open to those aged 18 and over.
In Scotland, all 18 to 39-year-olds are being invited, with older age groups first, in the specific areas of Glasgow affected by the current outbreak.
More widely in Scotland, people aged 30 and over are being invited for their jab, with those aged 18 to 29 years old on and including May 17 2021 expected to be invited next.
The Department of Health and Social Care said 42,216,654 people across the UK have now been vaccinated with a first dose (80%), while 30,675,207 people have had both doses (58%).
Mr Hancock said: “Now that four in five adults in the UK have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and more than half of adults have had a second jab, we are entering the final furlong in our race against the virus.
“Vaccines save lives and have enabled us to restore many freedoms that we cherish.
“To allow us to ease restrictions fully, it is more important than ever that people come forward for their jabs when eligible and book a second dose to receive the fullest possible protection.”
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