MINISTERS have NO plans to make coronavirus vaccines compulsory, Matt Hancock stressed today.
The Health Secretary insisted the Government would not make the whole nation get a jab against any vaccines that are rolled out across the nation – after a Pfizer jab yesterday was found to prevent 90 per cent of cases.
In what could be a huge breakthrough in the pandemic, the Government has purchased 40million doses – with ten million available before Christmas.
And Mr Hancock said today the NHS has been told to begin vaccinating people from the start of December if it's found to be safe.
But today Mr Hancock sought to dismiss anti-vaxxer fears that the whole country will be forced to get the jab or they won't be allowed out.
Social media accounts, bots and rogue states are behind theories spreading fake news and images scare-mongering about the potential vaccine.
GCHQ spies are involved in a cyberwar tackling online propaganda, the Times reported earlier this week.
Mr Hancock told the BBC today: "Yes, we are not proposing to make this compulsory. not least because I think the vast majority of people are going to want to have it.
"Some international surveys show the UK has one of the highest enthusiasms for taking up the vaccine."
Care home residents, care workers, NHS staff and older people are expected to get the jab first – it may not come to the wider population until the new year.
Boris last night blasted people who spread wild conspiracy theories about vaccines online – and said: "I hope very much that people won’t be listening to those types of arguments."
He said their argument "holds no water" and stressed: "I think people need to remember that in having a vaccination you're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting anybody who could get infected by you or your family as a vector of the disease."
Mr Hancock also revealed this morning:
- GPs will be working 7 days a week on bank holidays and weekends to administer the vaccine to the public – when the time comes
- The army will be drafted in to help roll out the jabs on a "colossal" exercise
- But scientists still don't know whether having the vaccine will stop the spread of the disease – or just protect people against being sick when they come into contact with it
- The news doesn't mean people should be lax with social distancing and lockdown rules yet
- The vaccine must be kept to -70 degrees before it's given out to the public
Mr Hancock told the BBC: "We are obviously really pleased with the progress and promising news, but we are also cautious.
"We have got to stick with the programme we have got at the moment."
He said this morning he had written to GPs last night about the "important role" they will play in getting it out.
The Health Secretary said: "The NHS will be working 7 days a week, into the evenings, into bank holidays, to get this rolled out".
Who will get the Covid vaccine first?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has examined data on who suffers the worst outcomes from coronavirus and who is at highest risk of death.
Its interim guidance, which assumes the jab is safe and effective in all groups, says the order of priority should be:
- Older adults in a care home and care home workers
- All those aged 80 and over and health and social care workers, though they may move up the list
- Anyone 75 and over
- People aged 70 and over
- All those aged 65 and over
- High-risk adults under 65
- Moderate-risk adults under 65
- All those aged 60 and over
- All those 55 and over
- All those aged 50 and over
- The rest of the population, with priority yet to be determined.
The JCVI said the prioritisation could change if the first jab were not deemed suitable for, or effective in, older adults.
Meanwhile, Professor Sir John Bell today said we are "already on the train" in Britain's bid to finally beat coronavirus.
In yesterday's dramatic Downing Street press conference, Professor Jonathan Van Tam used a train analogy to describe how Brits can "now see the train lights" heading towards a platform.
The deputy chief medical officer added that the train is still "a few miles from the station", and we still need to wait to get on board.
But Sir John told Good Morning Britain that he is a bit further along in that journey, saying the vaccine breakthrough is a "substantial step" forward.
The show’s host, Piers Morgan, described the jab as the "James Bond" of vaccines and Sir John agreed.
He said: "That's exactly the right description, it's very fast and all you need is a string of RNA – you can make that really quickly."
Sir John added: "This is a pretty substantial step."
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