LONDON - The health service in England will open up COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged over 18 on Friday, a big step towards the government's target of giving every adult who wants a vaccine a first shot in the next month.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday pushed back the full re-opening of England from lockdown until July 19 because of a rise in cases, but also accelerated his vaccination plans, pledging to give every adult a first dose by the same date.
"Offering all adults a jab less than 200 days after the programme launched is one of our country’s greatest collective achievements, saving over 14,000 lives so far," he said, referring to Public Health England estimates of the impact of the vaccine rollout.
Britain has given a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to more than 42 million people, almost 80% of adults, while well over a half have received both shots.
Health authorities in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each run their own vaccination campaigns. Wales and Northern Ireland have already made vaccines available to any adult, while Scotland is offering them to anyone over 30.
Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are being rolled out across the United Kingdom, although officials have said that people under 40 should be offered an alternative to AstraZeneca's shot after it was linked to rare blood clots.
(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Michael Holden) ((email@example.com; +44 207 542 7064; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))