BRITS in their 40s will have to wait another month before being offered their Covid vaccine – with shortages slowing the rollout.
Ministers promised bumper supply from mid-March would see record daily jabs in arms.
But a delay to a key shipment means millions of younger Brits will have to wait longer for their first immunisation.
NHS bosses have told GPs to focus on delivering second shots to older patients and first doses to over-50s over the coming weeks.
It means the second phase of the immunisation blitz is unlikely to start before mid-April.
In a letter sent today, NHS chiefs warn of a “significant reduction” in weekly supply from March 29.
It comes as:
- Over 25million Brits have now been jabbed in the fight against Covid
- New UK Covid deaths today plunged by 80 per cent in a month
- Brussels threatened to SEIZE factories on the continent producing the Oxford Astrazeneca jab
- Covid cases still rising in 38% of local authorities – is YOURS on hotspot list?
It warns “volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained” for the following four weeks.
This evening Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed the delay for younger Brits, saying: "At the same time as opening up offers of vaccinations to all those who are 50 or above, we're going to do whatever it takes to reach all those in the most vulnerable groups who haven't come forward yet.
"Before we move on to the next cohort. And we will do that before we move on to people in their 40s.
"Before we forge ahead, I want us to be confident that we've done everything we can to protect those most in need of protection, and we will do all we can and do everything necessary to secure the supplies that are contractually committed to protecting people in this country."
In response to a question on the letter from NHS chiefs, he said: "We've opened up to the 50 and overs and then we're really going to focus on those who are most vulnerable, and of course we have a whole load of second doses we need to deliver.
"Vaccine supplies are always lumpy and we always send out letters to the NHS on vaccine supply for the coming weeks – and what you are referring to is a standard letter."
Deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam added "we want to finish the job properly in the first top cohorts".
Nearly one in two Brit adults have now had their first Covid jab, with 25.3 million now vaccinated against the pandemic.
It includes 95 per cent of those over the age of 65 – who are among the highest risk from the virus.
But the pace of the vaccination programme is now set to slow until the delayed shipment arrives in late April.
Volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained.
Officials hope the bump in the road will not change Boris Johnson’s pledge of offering a first dose to all adults by the end of July.
It comes as more than 25million Brits have now been jabbed in the fight against Covid – as the extraordinary vaccine rollout speeds on.
Britain has led the way in an astonishingly fast vaccination programme, with over-50s now being invited to book in for a jab.
Almost half the adult population has now been vaccinated against Covid.
New figures out today show the UK jabbed a total of 25,273,226 people between December 8 and March 16 with first doses, while 1,759,445 people have had their second dose.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “This latest milestone is an incredible achievement – representing 25million reasons to be confident for the future as we cautiously reopen society.
“Thank you once again to the brilliant NHS, scientists, armed forces, volunteers, and all those who’ve helped our rollout.”
Mr Hancock said: “This is an extraordinary feat, coming exactly 100 days after Margaret Keenan received the first authorised jab in the whole world.
“It has been a national mission, one of the one of the biggest logistical exercises since the war and I'd like to thank everyone who played their part, including every NHS vaccinator, GPs, pharmacists, volunteers and the armed forces for their crucial role in every corner of the UK.
“We’re ahead of schedule to offer a first dose to all in these groups by the 15 April and I urge everybody eligible to come forward.”
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