Health secretary Matt Hancock has today praised civil servants for the role they have played in rolling out the coronavirus vaccine as the UK hit the milestone of having provided a first dose of the injection to 15 million people.
The vaccine rollout scheme hit the milestone in two months, with everyone in the top four priority groups having now been offered the first dose.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning, Hancock said hitting the target was “a tremendous achievement, and I'm very grateful to everybody involved to who's allowed this country to hit 15 million people vaccinated, two days ahead of target”.
He offered his thanks to all those who had been involved in the rollout. “The volunteers have been brilliant. It's not just those in the NHS, who have done the absolute core of this, or the armed forces or local councils, all of whom have done a brilliant job – or indeed the civil servants who don't get enough praise in my view for making this happen.
“[It is also about the} volunteers who come forward so it has been an absolutely terrific effort, but there is much, much more to do.”
Having met the target to offer the first dose of the vaccine to all in the top four priority groups, Hancock said the next goal was to provide the first dose to everyone in the top nine priority groups, covering all over the age of 60, by the end of April, as well as trying to increase take up.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson hailed the vaccine rollout as an "extraordinary feat" and said the country could go into the next stage "with great confidence".
The prime minister is due to set out his "road map" out of lockdown on 22 February.
“We have reached a significant milestone in the United Kingdom's national vaccination programme,” Johnson said. “This country has achieved an extraordinary feat administering a total of 15 million jobs into the arms of some of the most vulnerable people in the country… delivered by the most extraordinary army and vaccinators who have jabbed like there's no tomorrow.
“It has been a truly national UK-wide effort. We've done it together. And I want to thank each and every person who has helped make it happen.”
Johnson said that “no one is resting on their laurels”.
He added: “In fact, the first million or so letters appointed offering appointments to the over 65s are already landing on doorsteps.
“We still got a long way to go, and there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road. But after all we've achieved. I know we can go forward with great confidence.”