When will you be vaccinated for coronavirus? This vaccine calculator estimates when you'll be invited to get your first and second doses of the COVID jab...
Since December last year, the UK has been successfully rolling out its COVID-19 vaccination programme. The Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines were the first to be offered out to those most in need around the country, and the Moderna vaccine is now also on offer in some places.
To date, over 41 million people in Britain have been given their first dose of the jab, while almost 30 million have now been vaccinated twice - totalling over 71 million vaccinations for the population. This evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the fourth stage of the roadmap out of lockdown would be postponed until 19 July, and with it he has brought forward the goal for the date that every adult in the country receives their first vaccination from 31 July to 19 July.
The vaccine offering is now available to most young people, with tonight's press conference confirming that from tomorrow, the NHS will invite 23- and 24-year-olds to book a COVID jab in England. However, with a rush of people attempting to book, it there may well be a delay in people being able to secure their jab. All adults in Northern Ireland and Wales are now eligible to get vaccinated, while Scotland is vaccinating people in their late 20s and above.
The Indian variant - also called the Delta variant - is what has caused the delay in England properly being able to reopen. It's suspected to be significantly more transmissable than other variants, however Sir Patrick Vallance confirmed that the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are able to provide immunity against the new variant - especially after two doses.
If you haven't yet been offered a vaccine, after the recent news you will no doubt be very keen to know roughly when you can expect it. And luckily, there's a handy online vaccine calculator that can give you a better idea of where you are in the queue right now. Omni Calculator's Vaccine Queue Calculator for the UK asks you to input various information - including your age, whether you're a care home or health worker, if you're currently pregnant, and more - and then it works out roughly when you might be expected to receive an invite for a dose, based on the most recent roll-out rate across the country. You can try it for yourself here.
As a healthy 30-year-old woman, I have already had my first dose of the vaccine, after being in the lowest group for priority. But for example, a 21-year-old with no existing health conditions, and who doesn't work in a caregiving role could, at the current roll-out rate (which, in the past 7 days was just over 3.2 million doses per week), expect to be offered the first dose of the vaccine any time between late June and early August (although it will likely be a little earlier than that based on Boris Johnson's commitment today). The calculator suggests you should have the second administered some time between late September and late October.
It's a huge achievement that so many people have now gained a level of immunity from the virus, after working through nearly all the age groups. The government has always been decisive about the fact age would be the "biggest priority" (in the words of Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam) when working out who would be offered the jab first. And quite rightly so; coronavirus is known to pose a greater risk the older you are.
However, there are numerous other factors that have been taken into consideration when it comes to working out who's been a priority for getting a jab. The government's vaccine task-force previously drew up a list to lay out who is eligible for the vaccination first, which largely used occupation, age, and medical history as an assessment of vulnerability to coronavirus. As well as that, experts also took into account various other characteristics that may put a person at higher risk of serious illness resulting from the virus. These included people whose ethnicity or high BMI put them more at risk, as well as whether they smoke, and what their housing situation is. This makes sense, given that research shows those who are overweight and who are from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background have a higher chance of falling seriously ill with COVID.
The core order of priority, which stands in conjunction with other factors, is:
Who has been offered the COVID-19 vaccine first?
Older adults' resident in a care home and care home workers
All those 80 years of age and over, and health and social care workers
All those 75 years of age and over
All those 70 years of age and over
All those 65 years of age and over
High-risk adults under 65 years of age
Moderate-risk adults under 65 years of age
All those 60 years of age and over
All those 55 years of age and over
All those 50 years of age and over
Rest of the population (priority to be determined)
Does the vaccine stop the spread of the virus, as well as stopping people getting sick?
This was something experts couldn't be sure of prior to the vaccine being rolled out. While the vaccine trials showed high efficacy rates in preventing sickness from COVID-19 in those who had the jabs, it wasn't clear whether those who have been vaccinated could still unknowingly spread the virus (even if it hadn't taken hold in their own bodies thanks to their immunity).
In exciting news, one study suggested that the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine is having a "substantial" effect on reducing the transmission of the virus. Similarly, studies on the Pfizer vaccine in Israel (where more than half of the population is vaccinated) have showed that it's stopped 89.4% of virus transmission in the country. The most recent study from Public Health England shows that a single dose of either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines can reduce household transmission of the virus by up to half. Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the research as "terrific news," and he's right - it's very encouraging. If vaccinated people are less likely to be able to spread the virus, we have more chance of properly curbing its spread across the population.
Will we need vaccine boosters yearly?
As it stands, the UK has ordered more than 400 million doses of seven different coronavirus vaccines (most of which are not yet available for use). The majority of these vaccines require two doses, meaning there's more than enough for at least 200 million people to be vaccinated. But our population is around 67 million, so how come we're buying more vaccines than we have people?
There are two possible reasons for that. Firstly, it may be because we are planning to donate some of our vaccine supplies to other countries who are in need. As it stands, very few of the 29 poorest countries in the world have received any jabs, but if we don't vaccinate globally, it's hard to see how we'll overcome the pandemic.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast in February, World Health Organisation spokesperson Margaret Harris said: "There have been a number of very interesting analyses showing that just vaccinating your own country and then sitting there and saying 'we’re fine' won’t work economically. That phrase 'no man is an island' applies economically as well… Unless we get all societies working effectively once again, every society will be financially affected."
The other suggestion as to why the government has bought so many more vaccines than they have people is that the vaccine programme may be ongoing over the coming years. As the virus mutates, it's possible that people will need a booster jab to maintain immunity, although there is currently limited scientific evidence to confirm this either way.
In April, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told This Morning that experts were "working on a new vaccine that we might have to roll out in the autumn, to give people a third dose that will deal with this [new variant] problem."
By placing bulk orders for next year (and with the option to order more for years to come - 90 million additional Valneva doses have been optioned for 2023 and 2025 if needed) it suggests the government is planning for the possibility of revaccinating the population in years to come.
But whether we end up needing more vaccinations in future not, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that the existence of the vaccine and the fact we're almost at stage three of the four-stage roadmap out of lockdown is providing some light at the end of this very, very dark coronavirus tunnel. Thank F for that.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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