First, I would like to pay tribute to our fantastic NHS and all the frontline vaccinators, our volunteers, armed forces and local authorities and all those working on the vaccine deployment programme. I am very grateful for their tireless efforts in vaccinating those most at risk across the country.
I am absolutely delighted, Mr Speaker—no haircut puns at all here—that another significant milestone has been reached, as we have met our target of offering a vaccine to those in cohorts 1 to 9 ahead of schedule. Over 32 million people have had their first dose and more than 7.6 million have had their second dose. We are making phenomenal progress, but we remain focused on ensuring that no one gets left behind.
Last week I became one of those people who had their first jab, at Boots the chemist in Nottingham. Will my hon. Friend join me in thanking all those in places such as Boots and all those involved in the roll-out of the Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines? Does he agree that the best way out of this situation is to get that jab, and that when the time comes and people get the call, they should take that opportunity as soon as they can?
I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend, and I thank Boots the chemist not only for its frontline capability but for its distribution arm, which has helped us to distribute Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and, now, Moderna. I agree that when people get the call, they should come forward and have their jab.
I welcome today’s news that the over-45s are being invited to receive their first dose of the vaccine, and I thank everyone in Carshalton and Wallington who is involved in the roll-out. I recently held a vaccine roundtable with NHS leaders in Carshalton and Wallington to encourage everyone, including ethnic minority groups, to come forward and get the vaccine when their time comes. Could my hon. Friend update the House on what steps the Government are taking to work with community leaders and others to ensure that every part of our community comes forward and gets the vaccine?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, and I echo his comments about the incredible work that is happening across the London borough of Sutton. I thank him for his work in promoting the vaccine, and according to the latest NHS figures almost 90,000 individuals have had their first dose of covid-19 vaccine in Sutton. To this end we are working closely with faith and community leaders to help to spread information about vaccines through trusted, familiar voices and in a range of different languages and settings. That also means leveraging the influence of celebrity figures such as Sir Lenny Henry and the powerful and incredibly moving “call to action” letter and video to black and Afro-Caribbean communities. This is really important. We are also working to support the vaccine programme over important religious observances such as Ramadan, which begins today. We are working with the Muslim community and reiterating the verdict of Islamic scholars and key Muslim figures within the NHS that the vaccine does not break the fast and is permissible, so come and get your vaccine.