All unvaccinated over-70s urged to contact GPs as quarter of Brits have had jab

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Every Brit aged 70 or older who is yet to receive a coronavirus vaccine should contact the NHS or their GP right away, Matt Hancock has announced.

The Health Secretary addressed the nation in a Downing Street press conference at 5pm on Monday afternoon.

He was joined by Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for England, and Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director of primary care at NHS England.

In a departure from previous protocol, elderly Brits are now being urged to ask for a vaccine appointment if they haven't received one yet as the UK strives to reach its February 15 deadline.

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Until now the NHS has asked people to wait to be invited for a vaccine, but now everyone over 70 and living in England should contact the NHS themselves.

The easiest way to do this is through the online national booking service at nhs.uk, Mr Hancock said.

However people can also call 119 or speak to their local GP practice.

Over-70s in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should still wait to be contacted for an appointment.

It's two months to the day since the first Covid vaccines were administered in the UK, and 12.2 million Brits have now been vaccinated.

That's almost a quarter of all adults in Britain.

Mr Hancock said he was glad to announce take-up rates for the vaccine have been far higher than expected.

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The UK Government originally estimated it would have a take-up rate of 75%, but the rate among over-80s has instead been 91%.

Among those aged 75 to 79 take-up is 95%, while almost three-quarters of those aged 10 to 74 have accepted the invitation for a jab.

Among eligible care home residents vaccine take-up is 93%, Mr Hancock said.

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The UK is on track to reach its goal of vaccinating everyone in the first four priority groups by February 15.

Once this goal has been reached, those in other groups including younger people will be invited to have the vaccine.

Workplace testing is also being ramped up to help lower rates of infection.

Mr Hancock confirmed the government has ordered 50 million vaccine doses from CureVac that specifically target new virus variants as they emerge, such as the South African variant.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to only provide minimal protection against the new variant.

However Mr Van-Tam pointed out that the South African variant is not the "dominant" strain in the UK, nor does it appear to have a "transmissibility advantage" over the current virus.

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