Every adult in England offered Covid jab by autumn - says Matt Hancock

The Covid-19 vaccination at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Health secretary Matt Hancock says every adult will be offered a Covid-19 jab by autumn. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Every adult in England will have been offered a Covid-19 vaccination by the autumn, health secretary Matt Hancock has said.

The health secretary said people could be vaccinated against coronavirus every year in a similar way to the annual flu jab programme.

Mr Hancock said a dual vaccination against the two conditions in future is "highly likely".

The government is aiming to offer inoculations to almost 14 million vulnerable people in the UK by mid-February.

More than half a million over-80s are due to receive invites this week to jet a jab at one of seven new mass vaccination regional centres in England.

The nearest of the  mass vaccination sites to Norfolk is Stevenage, although an increasing number of GP surgeries in the county are now providing vaccinations.

Mr Hancock said all adults are expected to be offered an injection by the autumn.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock giving a statement to MPs in the House of Commons.

Health secretary Matt Hancock. - Credit: PA

He told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: "I hope that we will be able to handle this (disease) in the future through a vaccination programme in the same way that we do flu each year.

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"I think it's highly likely that there will be a dual vaccination programme for the foreseeable - this is in the medium-term - of flu and Covid."

Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said it might be that people would have to get a coronavirus vaccine "every few years" if it does need to be updated against new variants and depending on how long immunity lasts.

He said the information to date on the success of vaccines against new variants is "very encouraging", but warned the virus "will not go away".

He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "This one (virus) I think will not go away. We're going to have to live with it but that may change significantly.

"It may well become more of an endemic virus, that's with us all the time and may cause some seasonal pressures and some excess deaths, but is not causing the huge disruption that we're seeing now."

He said even after the elderly - who due to their age are more vulnerable to serious effects from Covid-19 - are vaccinated, the virus will have to be managed "with social distancing measures as well as vaccination for the coming months".