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Brits in their 40s ‘to get Covid vaccines by end of March’

Government advisers reportedly pushing for next phase of jabs rollout to focus on age rather than prioritising key workers

The UK’s 40-somethings may only have to wait another five weeks before being invited to get Covid jabs, according to reports.

The Daily Mail says that recommendations drafted at a meeting of the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) yesterday would see the next phase of the vaccines rollout following a “simple age-based approach”, rather than “prioritising key workers or ethnic minorities”.

“But the age brackets will be wider than before - meaning 40- to 49-year-olds are likely to be invited to have a jab once the 32 million people in the top nine groups have had their first dose,” the newspaper reports. And if current daily innoculations averages are maintained, that milestone could be reached as soon as 24 March.

Members of the JCVI are reportedly “satisfied that those at highest risk within the key worker and ethnic minority groups are already accounted for” in the current phase of the jabs campaign, and are expected to sign off on and then submit the plan to ministers within days.

A source said: “Members are now close to an agreement on what the next stage of the vaccine rollout programme should look like.”

However, a health official told Politico's London Playbook that the Mail’s claims about the rollout of jabs to over-40s were “total speculation” based on reports about what the next vaccination cohorts will look like, coupled with what the site describes as “all the journo calculations about the speed of the rollout”.

“We have set out what we are aiming to achieve and what we think is deliverable - which is the remaining phase one groups by May,” the unnamed official said.

All the same, speculation that 40-somethings might be bumped up the list has been fuelled further by public calls from the chair of the JCVI for age to be the key factor in deciding who gets jabs next.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the Royal College of Physicians last night, Professor Wei Shen Lim said age “dominates by a long way” when assessing the risk posed by Covid, while underlying health conditions contribute “some increased risk”, The Telegraph reports.

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