Last week we launched a five-week consultation on making vaccines a condition of deployment for staff in care homes with older adult residents in England – as we continue to explore every option to protect the lives of the most vulnerable to the virus. Older people living in care homes continue to be most at risk of suffering the serious consequences of Covid-19, and despite best efforts to protect them, we have seen the grave effect the virus has had on this group. With nearly half of all care homes with older adult residents yet to meet SAGE’s recommended vaccine threshold, we have opened a consultation on making vaccines a condition of deployment – which would provide greater protection for staff and residents, helping save lives. Vaccines are our best way out of this pandemic, already taking millions of people out of the path of the virus and preventing deaths – and in our duty of care to those most vulnerable, we will not hesitate in considering all options to keep them safe.
This means more than 32 million people have been given the precious protection vaccines provide against Covid-19 and that we can now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July. Over 8.1 million people have received their second dose, meaning those most vulnerable to the virus now have the best possible protection. We are encouraging everyone to take up their second dose when it is their turn, to ensure maximum protection.
The Foreign and Defence Secretaries confirmed the UK will join the US and our NATO allies in drawing down our forces in Afghanistan over the coming months but will remain steadfastly committed to supporting lasting peace and stability in the region. We stand with NATO and the people of Afghanistan to support a more stable, peaceful future for the country, and will continue to work closely with the US, our allies and partners to ensure the security and stability of the wider region. As we drawdown, we will prioritise an orderly departure of our forces, which ensures the security of our people currently serving, and will continue to help build up Afghanistan’s capacity for self-governance and will continue with counter-terrorism support to help protect the gains made over the last 20 years. I know many in our Armed Forces community, both serving and veterans, will have lasting memories of their service in Afghanistan, and as we conclude our military operations there, we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and who will never be forgotten