ALL the top four priority groups have now been offered a first vaccine dose in Hampshire.

The NHS in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight confirmed the news today and said it would now be moving on to vaccinate those aged 65 to 69.

It said the "amazing achievement is the result of a massive amount of hard work and careful co-ordination by NHS teams across the county, backed up by an army of volunteers who have given vital support".

The vaccination programme started in the second half of December.

There is now a network of 67 sites across the county, ranging from GP-led local centres to pharmacies, and large vaccination sites working as part of the national programme.

That network of centres have now offered a vaccine dose to all over-70s, all older adult care home residents and staff, all of those classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, and all frontline health and social care staff.

Dr Nigel Watson, leading the vaccination roll-out across the county, said: "From a standing start in December, this is an outstanding achievement. Thanks to the dedication and skill of those on the ground, and the positive response of the public, we have been able to do something really special.

"We have been determined to meet the target of vaccinating the first four priority groups by the middle of February, and so it is fantastic to know that we reached the milestone. Most satisfying of all, we know that we are protecting people who are vulnerable, and saving lives."

More than 400,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight since the programme started in December 2020.

Not every single person in the first priority groups will have received a vaccine, even though everyone has been contacted - people who are ill, or in hospital, or who do not wish to be vaccinated at this stage will not yet have been protected.

If there is anyone aged over 70 who - for whatever reason - does not believe they have been invited for a jab, book a vaccination via the national programme online or by calling 119, free of charge.

"Our next task is to move on to those aged 65-69, and those who have significant health problems who would be at greater risk if they became infected with the virus - another huge task. It really is great news that we are making such good progress, and so I hope people will be reassured that will get to them as soon as we can," added Dr Watson.

Those in the 65 to 69 are urged not to contact their surgery and wait to be contacted about their vaccination.

Dr Watson said: "I would remind everyone - whether you have had a vaccine dose or not - that we still all need to do the basics to keep ourselves, and everyone else, safe. Please don't lower your guard - keeping washing your hands, keep covering your face, keep giving people space."

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