The vaccination of all over-50s and vulnerable people against coronavirus will be complete by the beginning of May, the government has announced.
Confirming that local elections would go ahead this year, the Cabinet Office said in a statement that the vaccination programme was “planned to have reached all nine priority cohorts by May”.
The nine priority cohorts include everybody over the age of 50 and, frontline health and care staff, and people over 16 in an at-risk group
The announcement comes after Downing Street on Thursday said the priority vaccination programme would be complete by the end of spring, but declined to give an exact date.
The local elections in England are scheduled for 6 May and the government confirmed on Friday that they would go ahead.
The government has previously only promised to vaccine the top four priority groups until February 15 and said the new deadline would be announced by then.
These top four groups included all those over 70 and “clinically extremely vulnerable” people over 16 years of age.
The Cabinet Office statement said: “The UK’s vaccination programme is planned to have reached all nine priority cohorts by May, meaning that the Government can commit to go ahead with these polls with confidence – and maintain the choice for voters between voting in person or remotely.”
Speaking on Thursday, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman confirmed that “we will ensure that all those in the first phase receive their first dose by the end of spring.”
But when reporters pressed him to define exactly when spring ends, he refused to put a date on it.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has previously said the aim is for all over-50s and those at risk to be vaccinated by the end of April.
But former cabinet minister Karen Bradley recently told a Commons committee that the civil service definition of spring lasted “until the last day in July that Parliament sits”.