Government only needs to OFFER 13.9m COVID vaccine to hit target
Government only needs to OFFER 13.9million people COVID vaccine to hit its target by mid-February as it admits it ‘can’t force’ older people who want to pass their life-saving jab onto others
- Government has set target of vaccinating 13.9million most vulnerable by Feb 15
- But sources say it only needs to offer the jab and not all will take up the invite
- Target could be technically hit when millions fewer doses are administered
- Number could still be reached by Feb 15 with other priority groups covered
Ministers are facing questions over the vaccination target today as they could claim success with far fewer than 13.9million people given jabs.
Boris Johnson has set the target of inoculating the four highest priority groups by February 15, warning that it will be ‘very hard’.
But although the PM and other ministers have suggested it will mean administering 13.9million doses, in fact that is how many people will be ‘offered’ jabs.
Government sources admit not everyone will take up the invitation, with polls indicating that a fifth of the population might refuse.
It raises the prospect that the target could be technically hit well before 13.9million doses have been administered – although it is still possible that number of jabs will be achieved by mid-February.
However, MPs warned that ‘under-delivering’ and then claiming to have achieved the goal ‘won’t wash’.
Nadhim Zahawi tweeted on January 4 suggesting that the government target is for 13.9million jabs by mid-February – using jab emojis in his message
Boris Johnson (pictured en route to view flooding devastation today) has insisted the government is on track to hit its vaccination target
The vaccine rollout appeared to get back on track yesterday after an alarming slowdown, with figures showing 346,000 jabs were given in the past 24 hours.
Mr Johnson insisted the target was still on schedule, but warned ‘constraints on supply’ were making the situation harder.
Matt Hancock said today that five million doses have now been given.
In order to administer 13.9million first doses by February 15, the Government must average more than 350,000 doses a day from now on.
But that the goal could be achieved with more like 300,000 jabs a if takeup is 75-80 per cent.
Government insiders told MailOnline the vaccinations are not mandatory and ‘no-one expects to get 100 per cent in every category’.
‘Some people will refuse to have a jab,’ they said. ‘We are trying all the time to encourage people to take up the offer.’
Some research has suggested up to a fifth of the public could turn down the invite. There is not believed to be any specific target for take-up in Whitehall, with the aim to cover ‘as many people as possible’.
Mr Johnson has said previously that doses will be ‘offered’ to individuals in the groups.
But at PMQs yesterday he suggested the commitment went further, saying the government is ‘on track to deliver a first vaccine to everyone in the top four cohorts by mid-February’.
Nadhim Zahawi also tweeted on January 4 that the government was aiming for 13.9million jabs by mid-February – using jab emojis in his message.
One senior Labour MP said everyone wanted the rollout to succeed, regardless of their party.
But they warned that claiming to have ‘invited’ the 13.9million in highest priority groups ‘won’t wash’.
‘They have just raised expectations. They should have managed expectations,’ the MP said.
‘What voters want is competence. The problem with this lot is the level of competence is unbelievable. That is cutting through to people.’
The former minister added: ‘They are doing what they have done throughout, they are over-promising and under-delivering.
‘What you’ve got is this happy puppy act that the PM does with ”everything is going to be wonderful”.
Meanwhile, Tony Blair has called for 600,000 vaccinations to be carried out each day to enable almost all Covid restrictions to be lifted by mid-May, four months earlier than currently planned.
The former prime minister said an accelerated rollout, as vaccine production is stepped up, could see the country move back to Tier Three restrictions in late February and Tier One as soon as early April.
Most remaining restrictions could be lifted as soon as around 70 per cent of adults have been vaccinated – mid-May under Mr Blair’s plans.
Tony Blair has called for 600,000 vaccinations to be carried out each day to enable almost all Covid restrictions to be lifted by mid-May
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