2.7 million unvaccinated adults in England
Nearly three million adults in England have still not come forward for a COVID vaccine, data reveals.
Experts say the figure includes some people who could get extremely sick if they were to catch the virus.
Most elderly and vulnerable people have already had several protective shots.
Getting fully immunised saves lives by cutting the risk of severe COVID illness, although it cannot fully stop infections. Cases have been rising rapidly in the UK in recent weeks.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show an estimated 2.7m people – or one in every 25 – is thought to be infected.
Fresh waves of COVID are also being seen in other countries because of waning immunity and new COVID variants. The virus keeps mutating or changing.
The chief of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has warned that the pandemic is “nowhere near over”.
Rising infections across Europe have prompted EU health agencies to recommend a second COVID booster shot for people over 60, as well as people who are medically vulnerable.
Spring boosters were offered to over-75s and other high-risk people in the UK and are still available to individuals in these groups who have not yet had them.
The number of people in hospital in the UK who have tested positive for COVID has been rising for weeks.
A total of 13 336 patients were in hospital in England on July 11.
The last time the figure was this high in England was in late April.
Ministers say COVID restrictions could be reintroduced if pressures on the NHS became too much, but there is no suggestion that will happen.
Instead, the focus is on getting people vaccinated.
Dame Meg Hillier MP, who is Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said “fresh approaches” were needed to tackle the persistent low uptake observed in some groups.
In a report, the committee said NHS England should aim to reduce the number of unvaccinated adults by 500 000.
Dame Meg said officials “must build on the initial successes of the vaccine programme and redouble efforts to reach people who are unvaccinated”.
A government spokesperson said it was “working hard” to reach unvaccinated people, highlighting the use of walk-in and mobile vaccination clinics and “bespoke messages from trusted voices – such as faith and community leaders”. (BBC)