More than 15 million people in the UK have now had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, the government has confirmed.
The number is the equivalent of everyone in the government’s top four priority groups, which is the over-70s, NHS and social care staff and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said the UK’s NHS has “achieved an extraordinary feat” by vaccinating some of the “most vulnerable” people in vaccination centres across the UK.
“We have even delivered jabs in a fairground,” he said, in a video tweeted online.
“And they have been delivered by the most extraordinary army of vaccinators who have jabbed like there is no tomorrow.
“Doctors and nurses and retired healthcare workers, who have returned to the fray, and supported by organisers, volunteers, marshals, guided by the leadership of the NHS, and supported by the great strategic, logistical nous of the British army.”
The government had set a target of offering a Covid-19 vaccine to its top four priority groups in the UK – the equivalent of 15 million people – by February 15.
Johnson added: “It has been a truly national, UK-wide effort. We have done it together.”
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “Hitting this milestone just 10 weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first Covid vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.
“The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.
“On behalf of the whole country it’s right to mark this successful first phase with a huge thank you to everyone involved in this extraordinary team effort.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “I’m so proud of the team – we’ve hit this fantastic milestone in our battle against Covid-19. In less than 10 weeks we’ve jabbed over 15 million people across the UK.
“That’s one in every four adults now starting to receive protection from this dreadful disease.
“This accomplishment is thanks to the incredible efforts of frontline NHS workers, vaccine volunteers, the armed forces and all those working in local and central government. The vaccine rollout shows what our country can achieve working together.
“There is so much more to do and I urge anyone eligible to step forward and take up their appointment. The vaccine is our route to freedom – we will beat this virus jab by jab.”