Covid vaccine: timeline of UK vaccination programme - as country marks anniversary of first coronavirus jab

Margaret Keenan was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

It’s been one year since the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine was administered, with the first dose given at a hospital in the UK.

Fast forward to a year on, 118.6 million doses have now been administered.

It’s been one year since the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine was administered (Graphic: Helen Johnson/JPIMedia)

As of 5 December, 48.8 million people have received their first Covid dose, according to official UK Government data, with 46.2 million having received both doses of a Covid jab.

But how did we get to where we are now, how much further is there to go, and which areas have a low uptake of those fully vaccinated against coronavirus? We take a look back at the key figures and milestones.

The rollout begins

A timeline of the Covid vaccine rollout in the UK

On 2 December 2020, UK medicines regulator the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) gave approval for the first UK Covid vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech.

A few days later on 8 December, Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

She was given the vaccine at the University Hospital in Coventry by nurse May Parsons.

On 30 December 2020, the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was then approved, with the Moderna vaccine approved shortly after on 8 January 2021.

The one-dose Janssen Covid vaccine was then approved on 28 May 2021.

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for 12 to 15-year-olds in the UK on 4 June 2021, with the Moderna vaccine approved for 12 to 17-year-olds on 17 August 2021.


What impact did vaccinations have on deaths?

The vaccine rollout had a major impact on fatalities, with the number of deaths within 28 days of a positive test dropping dramatically since the first dose was administered.

However, deaths from Covid-19 are still being recorded, and in the week to 5 Dec 459 deaths were recorded within 28 days of a positive test result.


Omicron and the start of the booster programme

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended booster jabs for eligible groups on 14 September 2021.

After the Omicron Covid variant was first detected in early November, on 29 November the UK Government announced that all adults will be offered a booster jab by the end of January 2022, in line with JCVI recommendations.

Almost 21 million people have now had a third injection across the UK.


Who is most likely to have been vaccinated?

There have been concerns throughout the rollout about the groups who are being left behind, however.

In England, 78% of males aged 12 and over had had two doses as of 28 November, compared to 81.4% of females, according to NHS England data.

The same data also reveals disparities between ethnic groups, with white people most likely to have been double jabbed.

In cases where the ethnicity is known, 85.8% of second doses went to white people. But white people make up only 84.5% of the population, according to mid-2016 ONS population estimates.

Asian people accounted for 7.7% of second doses versus 8.1% of the population, black people 2.6% of second doses versus 3.6% of the population, and mixed race people 1.3% of second doses compared to 1.8% of the population.

Which areas are still not vaccinated?

Government data also shows that some areas of England and Scotland have a lower rate of those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The data - which only includes data for England and Scotland, as council breakdowns are not published for Wales or Northern Ireland - shows that as of 5 December 2021 just 53% of those eligible aged 12 and over in Westminster had received their second Covid jab.

The analysis is based on Office for National Statistics population estimates.

There is also a low uptake rate of 53.2% in Newham, 53.7% in Kensington and Chelsea, and 55.3% in Hammersmith and Fulham.

At the other end of the scale, East Dunbartonshire had a high uptake rate of the second Covid vaccine, with 90.5% of people receiving both doses. Argyll and Bute also has an uptake of 89.1%, with the Scottish Borders having an uptake rate of 88.2%

Martin Michaelis, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Kent, said: “People who do not have anything against the vaccine may still not get vaccinated just because it is low on their priority list and additional hassle to organise and attend a vaccination appointment.

“Hence, if someone does not get vaccinated, it may sometimes be a sign of indifference rather than a deliberate decision indicating actual vaccine hesitancy.”