People aged 38 to 39 will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccines from Thursday, as the Prime Minister announced a public inquiry into the pandemic response and a new commission to honour lost loved ones.
Bookings for vaccinations will open on May 13, and 38 and 39-year-olds can sign up for their appointment on the NHS website.
The Prime Minister appeared before the House of Commons on Wednesday to confirm an independent inquiry would be launched in Spring 2022 to examine the government’s response to the pandemic over the past year-and-a-half.
Speaking to MPs, Mr Johnson told the chamber: “There is a solemn duty on the whole United Kingdom to come together and cherish the memories of those who have been lost.”
He said he had been “deeply moved” during his visit to the COVID Memorial Wall opposite Parliament and supported a more permanent feature in St Paul’s Cathedral.
However, he added: “I also know that communities across the whole country will want to find ways of commemorating what we have all been through.”
The new commission will support efforts to: “remember loved ones we have lost; honour the heroism of those who have saved lives and the courage of frontline workers who have kept our country going; celebrate the genius which created the vaccines; and commemorate the small acts of kindness, and the sacrifice of millions who stayed at home buying time for our scientists to come to our rescue.”
Mr Jonson said the “right moment” for the public inquiry was Spring 2022 and said lessons must be learned together.
Consultation will take place with the devolved nations so the inquiry can consider “all key aspects of the UK response”.
He added the inquiry “must not divert or distract the people on whom we depend at the peak of our struggle”, he said.
“The end of lockdown is not the end of the pandemic,” he said.
“The World Health Organisation has said that the pandemic has now reached its global peak and will last throughout this year.
“Our own scientific advisors judge that although more positive data is coming in and the outlook is improving, there could still be another resurgence in hospitalisations and deaths,” he added.
The prime minister said no public inquiry could take place fast enough to assist with the difficult judgements that will remain throughout the rest of the year.
He says: “This process will place the state’s actions under the microscope” and the time and efforts that people will have to go to to give evidence will put a “significant burden” on the NHS, the government, scientific advisors and many others.
He added the inquiry must be able to look at the events over the past year in “the cold light of day” and identify issues which will make a difference in the future.
The inquiry will be free “to scrutinise every document, to hear from all the key players,” he said. “That’s the right way to get the answers that the people of this country deserve.”