Those aged under 30 will be invited to book their coronavirus vaccine jabs this week, the health secretary has confirmed.
With 52% of the population now fully inoculated, Matt Hancock said: "This week we’ll be opening up vaccines to the under 30s," adding: "I urge everyone, when you get the call, get both jabs."
He said Covid hospitalisations are "broadly flat" despite a rising number of cases, demonstrating that vaccines had “severed but not broken” the link between infection and serious illness.
But he sought to manage expectations about the planned reopening on June 21, saying "the timing of exactly when we can take that step is the big question".
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"We're not saying no to June 21 at this point - we'll keep watching that data for another week."
He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: “The majority of people going into hospital right now are unvaccinated. “This week we will be opening up vaccines to the under-30s and so we are getting a step closer to the point when we have been able to offer the vaccine to all adults in this country. “Then, once we have got everybody having had their second dose, then you will get this protection that we are seeing at the moment among older people, you’ll get that protection throughout the whole adult population.”
Vaccination experts have previously advised that people under the age of 40 should receive an alternative vaccine to the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab due to the link between the jab and extremely rare cases of blood clots.
This means that most under-40s will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.
The government has said it intends to offer a first dose of a vaccine to all adults by the end of July, and both doses to everyone aged 50 and over by June 21.