More than three quarters of adults in the UK have now received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, the government has announced.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said a total of 86,780,455 jabs have now been administered, with 89% of people having received a first dose and 75% two doses.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the milestone as “a huge national achievement which we should all be proud of”.
“Our incredible vaccine rollout has now provided vital protection against the virus to three-quarters of all UK adults. This is a huge national achievement, which we should all be proud of,” the PM said in a statement.
“It’s so important that those who haven’t been vaccinated come forward as soon as possible to book their jab – to protect themselves, protect their loved ones and allow us all to enjoy our freedoms safely.”
And Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the vaccine is “helping us to work our way out of this pandemic towards normal”.
“We’ll be reaching a new milestone today where we have already got some 90% of the population with one jab but we will today be reaching a milestone of 75% of adults will have had two jabs,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“And this is so important in building up a vaccine wall of defence. It is the thing that is helping us to work our way out of this pandemic towards normal.”
In a statement released by DHSC, he added: “Three in four adults across the UK have now had both doses of the vaccine, which is incredible and a testament to the fantastic work of the NHS, volunteers and everyone involved in the rollout.
“Getting two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine is the key to enjoying a host of new freedoms safely – whether that be to enjoy a trip abroad with family or a night out with friends – as we continue to build our wall of protection.
“The vaccines are allowing us to reconnect with the things we love, but more than that, they’re protecting the people we love too. Please make sure to come forward for your jab if you haven’t already as soon as possible.”
The announcement comes as latest data from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows that around 60,000 deaths, 22 million infections and 66,900 hospitalisations have been prevented by the vaccines.
It is believed two jabs provide over 90% protection against hospitalisation from the Delta variant, which is the dominant strain in the UK at present.
Mr Javid also confirmed that preparations are being made to offer COVID booster jabs from next month.
“When it comes to booster jabs we are waiting for the final advice from JCVI, that’s our group of independent clinical advisers, and when we get that advice we will be able to start the booster programme, but I anticipate it will begin in early September, so I’m already making plans for that,” he told reporters.
“It’s really important that when we start that programme, the sort of first cohorts, the ones that got the jabs early on when we started our programme – the first in the world back in December last year – that those cohorts come first and so we will be prioritising it.”
The health secretary added that the plan is for the flu jab to be offered to over 50s at the same time as their COVID booster.
But a leading vaccination expert has suggested a booster programme may not be necessary.
Professor Sir Andrew Pollard told a group of parliamentarians: “The decision to boost or not should be scientifically driven.
“The time which we would need to boost is if we saw evidence that there was an increase in hospitalisation or people dying amongst those who are vaccinated. That is not something that we’re seeing at the moment.”
He added that “there isn’t any reason at this moment to panic”.