In the North West of England, 4,189,066 people have received at least one jab and 2,811,722 people have received both doses, ensuring they have the strongest possible protection from a second dose.
Over 39.3 million people in total across the UK have now been vaccinated with a first dose (74.8%) while more than 25.5 million people have had both doses (48.5%).
A recent study by Public Health England (PHE) shows that two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against the B.1.617.2 variant first identified in India.
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Vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease from the B.1.617.2 variant is similar after two doses compared to the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant dominant in the UK, and the Government says it expects to see even higher levels of effectiveness against hospitalisation and death.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "It is thanks to the remarkable work of the NHS our armed forces and selfless volunteers that we have been able to administer over seven million vaccines in the North West of England.
"From Cumbria to Cheshire, people have come forward in their droves to get the jab and I would urge everybody to follow suit when the time comes as we charter our course out of this pandemic and back to normality."
Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi added: "Today the North West of England has reached an incredible milestone in the vaccine programme by delivering over seven million jabs across the region.
"The NHS and local authorities have worked tirelessly, alongside an army of volunteers, to ensure their local community is safe.
"The evidence is abundantly clear that vaccines provide strong protection against this disease. Please join the tens of millions of people around the country who are now benefiting from this vaccine to protect yourself and those around you."
Appointments for a second dose have been brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for the remaining people in the top nine priority groups who have yet to receive their second dose.
This is to ensure people across the UK have the strongest possible protection from the virus at an earlier opportunity.
The move follows updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which has considered the latest available evidence and has recommended reducing the dosing interval.
The Government says this will be supported by "targeted new activity" to accelerate vaccine uptake amongst eligible cohorts in Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen.
In Bolton, this includes:
- increasing the delivery of vaccines through the three existing local vaccination sites and existing vaccine bus;
- establishing an additional vaccine bus that will also target walk-in appointments;
- NHS Professionals have supported rapid deployment of additional workforce, with St John’s Ambulance providing volunteers on a roving basis to target local businesses reaching out to those unable to take time off work;
- extending pop up sites, including at a community wedding venue;
- expanding community engagement plans with supporting communications and direct engagement with local communities.
In Blackburn with Darwen, this includes:
- extending opening hours at Burnley vaccination centre;
- extending capacity at Blackburn Crypt vaccination centre, with plans being developed to take Pfizer vaccine;
- increasing community pharmacy provision;
- expanding a proactive communications campaign engaging local communities;
- developing additional pop up sites as needed.
The government and its scientific experts are monitoring the evolving situation and rates of variants closely, and say they will not hesitate to take "additional action as necessary".
What are the benefits of getting vaccinated?
The Government says the vaccine offers high levels of protection against symptomatic disease and even higher levels of protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
Health chiefs says protection increases with the second dose which is why it is vital that everyone gets both doses of the vaccine as soon as they are offered to them.
Getting the vaccine is also believed to make people less likely to get infected and growing evidence shows that it also helps to prevent them from passing the virus on to others.
The latest data from PHE’s real-world study shows the vaccines are already having a significant impact in the UK, reducing hospitalisations and deaths.
It is believed the vaccines have saved at least 13,200 lives and have prevented at least 39,700 hospitalisations in England.
For the over 80s, it is estimated that two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine reduce the risk of hospitalisation by 93% from the B.1.1.7 (Kent) variant.
PHE analysis also shows that individuals who receive a single dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 80% lower risk of death against the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant originating in Kent and a second dose of the vaccine can provide 85-90% protection against symptomatic disease.
Protection against death from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rises from approximately 80% after one dose to 97% after two doses against the Kent variant.
ONS data published on May 6 found that more than 9 in 10 (93%) adults reported "positive sentiment" towards the vaccine.
Vaccines are available free of charge and from thousands of vaccine centres, GP practices and pharmacies, and the NHS wants everyone to take up the offer of an appointment when they are invited, with all those 36 and over invited to book a jab now.
All vaccines being used in the UK have met the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA’s) strict standards of safety, effectiveness and quality.
Rolling reviews are underway by the MHRA to assess the Janssen and Novavax vaccines.