PEOPLE across Berkshire are being told to expect a “dramatic increase” in the number of Covid-19 vaccines that will be offered from next week.

Over 500,000 people in Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Buckinghamshire have received at least one dose of a vaccine so far.

But NHS staff in all three counties are expecting a large vaccine shipment, that will allow them to offer 150,000 jabs a week from March 8 and vaccinate more overs 60s.

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The latest figures show 201,447 people in Berkshire had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by February 21.

Around half of them (100,924) are under the age of 70.

“It looks like from March 8 there is going to be a dramatic increase in the number of vaccines available,” said Meradin Peachey, a director at Public Health Berkshire.

“We know for at least three weeks there will be a massive increase – we will be able to have around 150,000 vaccines a week.

“The focus is still on the clinically vulnerable group. At the same time, they are going to start opening up access for over 60s.

“That’s partly because we need to fill all the slots. We’ve got a number of big mass vaccination centres open now and we need to make sure they are full.”

In the top four priority groups in Berkshire, over 90 per cent of people have been vaccinated, she said.

Everyone over 70 and people who are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable are in those groups.

Number of people who have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine in Berkshire:

  • Reading – 30,865
  • West Berkshire – 39,705
  • Bracknell – 27,731
  • Wokingham – 40,384
  • Windsor and Maidenhead – 37,278
  • Slough – 25,484

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Ms Meradin Peachey added: “The inequalities gap is going to be seen much more in the lower age groups.

“We’ve certainly seen more health and social care staff in the older age groups not taking up the vaccine.

“Black African men, South Asian communities, and the Chinese community seem to have a lower uptake.”

She said there is “a huge amount of work” going on to encourage people in these groups to take the vaccine.

Infection rates across Berkshire have been falling steadily since the third national lockdown began on January 5.

According to the latest figures, 53,857 people have tested positive for the virus in Berkshire during the pandemic and 1,650 have died.