The UK has secured a contract for 35 million more doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, the government has announced.
The additional vaccines are intended to help protect the country from the threat of coronavirus and its variants for years to come.
Vaccines have saved 95,200 lives
Health Secretary Sajid Javid suggested that the vaccines, which will be delivered in the second half of next year, would be saved for future booster campaigns.
The UK’s vaccination programme has been hailed for protecting tens of millions of people from Covid-19, saving 95,200 lives and preventing 82,100 hospitalisations among the over-65s in England alone.
The rollout has now been extended to 16 and 17-year-olds in the UK, with the age group currently being invited to book an appointment with their Gp or visit a walk-in centre.
Mr Javid said: “While we continue to build this wall of defence from Covid-19, it’s also vital we do everything we can to protect the country for the future too – whether that’s from the virus as we know it or new variants.
“I am pleased we’ve reached this agreement with Pfizer for more doses as part of our robust preparations to future-proof our vaccine programme, ensuring we have plans in place to keep the nation safe for years to come.”
The news comes as the government prepares to rollout a vaccine booster programme this year to ensure the people most vulnerable to Covid-19 have maximum protection heading into winter.
The rollout will be based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which is expected to make its recommendation in September.
The proposals suggest that the programme will follow a two-stage approach, with vulnerable groups offered the vaccine first.
In Stage 1 the following groups are expected to be invited for a booster dose, and the flu vaccine, from September:
– adults aged 70 or over– those living in care homes for older adults– frontline health and social care workers– adults aged 16 years and over who are immunosuppressed– adults aged 16 years and over who are considered clinically extremely vulnerable
In Stage 2, the following groups should be offered a booster dose as soon as practicable after Stage 1, with “equal emphasis on the flu vaccine where eligible”:
– all adults aged 50 and over– all adults aged 16 to 49 years who are in an influenza or Covid-19 at-risk group– adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said that there were around 15 million people who would be called forward in Stage 1, and 17 million in Stage 2.
Vaccine doses to be donated
The UK government has said it is committed to supporting the global recovery from the pandemic and improving access to vaccines.
A total of 100 million vaccine doses will be donated to other countries within the next year, while the donation of the first nine million doses was announced last month.
The UK is also one of the largest donors to the COVAX facility, the global mechanism to help developing countries access a coronavirus vaccine, and has committed £548 million in UK aid to help distribute 1.3 billion doses to 92 developing countries this year.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, NationalWorld.