The Secretary of State and I continue to hold regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues and the devolved Administrations on this crucial issue. Although each devolved Administration controls their own public health policy, we have been co-ordinating our responses to covid, seeking alignment in policy and approach where appropriate to ensure that measures safeguard the health and wellbeing of the whole United Kingdom. Our commitment is demonstrated through the UK Government’s procurement of vaccines and tests on behalf of all parts of the country, working with the devolved Administrations to ensure that they are deployed fairly across the UK.
Obviously, the world-leading steps that the Government have taken to acquire and roll out the vaccine have benefited every part of the United Kingdom. Will my hon. Friend confirm that Northern Ireland is benefiting, and will continue to benefit, from this vaccine roll-out, which is only possible if our devolved Administrations continue to work together as one Union?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right and I am pleased to see that Northern Ireland now has the highest vaccination rate in the UK, and, indeed, across any jurisdiction in Europe, with almost 6% of the population having been vaccinated. This clearly demonstrates the strength of the Union when we, as four nations, all work together. To date, over 114,000 people in Northern Ireland have successfully been vaccinated, including care home residents and health and social care staff. The vaccination programme began on 8 December, and by 6 January the mobile teams had visited 91% of care homes and achieved uptake levels of 90%-plus for residents and around 80% for staff.