More than 4million Brits have now been vaccinated, including more than half of the over-80s and care home residents, Matt Hancock has said.
The Health Secretary set out the figures at a Downing Street press conference, as ministers unveiled the next steps of the massive jabs rollout.
The over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable will be invited to book their jabs from today, as more than 5million people are now eligible to be vaccinated.
People over 80-years-old, care home residents, and NHS and care staff remain at the top of the priority list for the vaccine.
But parts of the country that have sped ahead in with their inoculation programmes will be allowed to invite the next two priority groups to get vaccinated.
Mr Hancock said the UK was “on track” to meet Boris Johnson’s target of vaccinating the most vulnerable groups by the middle of February, which ministers believe is key to loosening the lockdown.
More than half of all care home residents and the over-80s have had their first dose, he confirmed.
However he warned that the NHS was under “significant pressure”, with 37,475 people in hospitals in the UK with Covid – the highest figure throughout the whole of the pandemic.
On a visit to Oxfordshire, the Prime Minister insisted it was the right step to begin immunising others on the priority list.
He said: “We’re getting it out as fast as we can, 4million done so far.
“I think we’ve done more than half of the over-80s, half of the people in care homes, the elderly residents of care homes.
“Those groups remain our top priority, they’re an absolute priority for us, but it’s right as more vaccine comes on stream to get it into the arms of the other groups on the JCVI list.”
Mr Johnson warned the UK was still in a “pretty precarious” position – and said the easing of restrictions would not be an “open sesame” moment.