Matt Hancock promises ‘great British summer’ thanks to mass vaccination programme

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Matt Hancock has promised the nation a 'Great British summer' thanks to the government's mass vaccine plan.

It comes as the Health Secretary said every over-50 was to receive at least their first jab by May – a pledge to vaccinate 32million within the next 16 weeks.

So far, around 2.6 million people have received a Covid-19 vaccine first dose throughout the UK.

By the end of this month, a further 43 mass vaccination centres are planned to open – along with more GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals also planned to be set up for administering jabs – meaning everyone in England will live within 10 miles of a site.

Ministers also said 80,000 trained health workers had been drafted to help administer the vaccines and more than 200,000 community volunteers are to help with non-clinical aspects of the rollout.

Mr Hancock said: “The top four priority groups account for 88% of deaths.

"We want to reach every care home resident this month."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock promised a "great British summer"
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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He promises “We’re on track to deliver on pledge for top four groups" and have "accelerated care home rollout."

The Health Secretary added vaccines are important as “I want us to have a great British summer.”

At a No10 press briefing, Professor Stephen Powis said that 1,200 pharmacies in England alone will join the vaccination roll-out.

The Covid vaccination centre at Millennium Point in Birmingham opened yesterday
(Image: Birmingham Mail /Darren Quinton)

Manchester's COVID-19 vaccination centre at the Tennis and Football Centre Etihad Campus
(Image: Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)

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“We will then kick off another sprint up to April as we get the rest of the vulnerable groups protected and finally a marathon to the autumn as we deliver vaccination to everyone else,” he said.

He added that, apart from social distancing and Covid-19 safety measures, “these vaccines are the best line of defence that we have as we continue this battle against coronavirus ”.

Yesterday's press briefing also saw Mr Hancock clear up confusion around being able to meet with one friend for a walk with coffee.

His clarification came after a day of confusion on if the simple act fell within the rules.

Asked directly at this evening's Downing Street press conference about if it does fall within the rules, Mr Hancock still didn't clearly answer yes – but he was much clearer than anyone else has managed.

The vaccination process starts at the new Covid 19 vaccination centre at Millennium point in Birmingham
(Image: Adam Hughes / SWNS)

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Mr Hancock said you can go to a park and exercise with one other person, and you should remain two metres apart.

The government has stressed that coffee shops remain open for takeway.

Amid concern the tightening of lockdown restrictions could also mean the scrapping of support bubbles, Hancock said he “can rule out” taking such action.

Speaking at the No10 press conference, Mr Hancock said: “I can rule out removing the bubbles that we have in place.

“The childcare bubbles, the support bubbles are very important and we’re going to keep them.

“I know how important they are to people and they’re an important part of the system we’ve got to support people while also having these tough measures that are necessary.”

Support bubbles allow a single-adult household to join permanently with a second household of any size, and act as though they live together.

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