To: Producers of health-related statistics across the UK

Number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the UK

I am writing further to my letter of 1 December 2020, which highlighted our expectations around the publication of statistics on the COVID-19 vaccination programmes.

The publication of statistics on COVID-19 vaccinations, for the UK as a whole and for each administration, on the UK Government coronavirus dashboard is a welcome step forward in supporting transparency. These data should help keep the public informed and allow ministers and others to quote up-to-date information which is available in the public domain. I know these statistics are the result of a large amount of work undertaken by officials from each administration.

The approach taken by each administration is:


It is early in the implementation of the vaccination programmes and, whilst it is encouraging to see the statistics available, it will be important that they evolve to more effectively monitor the vaccination programmes and help users assess whether governments are meeting the vaccination targets they set.

I look forward to seeing your development plans published and, in setting out these plans, it will be helpful to indicate if some data cannot be provided, as well as where it can. I have listed some key areas of interest to stakeholders, which should be addressed as soon as possible.

1.More detailed data.

The breakdowns provided in each part of the UK are not consistent, but across all administrations, more granular information will be required to support a variety of uses. For example, the public across the UK will want to understand when they, family members, friends or co-workers are likely to be vaccinated and how the programmes are progressing. Where producers have not yet provided it, this more detailed information could include:

  • The characteristics (age group, sex, ethnic group) of the recipient.
  • The number and percentage of vaccinations offered, administered or declined.
  • The setting where the vaccination occurred.
  • The eligibility cohort denominators and the percentage take-up by cohort, for example split by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority groups.

Information that will be useful for analysis in due course could include the type of vaccine given, the distance travelled to get a vaccination and, if someone declined the vaccination, the reason why

2. More comprehensive metadata

The information about the data (metadata) is currently quite sparse and so it is difficult for users to understand the data collection process, the quality control applied and any impacts on the quality and timeliness of the data presented. A more thorough presentation of the metadata as soon as possible will help users understand and interpret the data correctly, such as the methodology published to support the test and trace programme in England.

3. Information about how to compare the statistics from each administration

I understand you are jointly discussing areas for further development, which I welcome. Whilst the UK dashboard helpfully combines the data for each administration to publish an aggregate summary for the UK, each administration also publishes its own vaccination data. It would be helpful if information is provided that explains any differences between the administrations’ data, which data can be compared and which should not. There is also an opportunity to learn from each other and help users understand the data by providing consistent breakdowns across administrations.

My team will keep in touch with the development of these statistics and would consider a more formal review against the Code of Practice in due course.

Yours sincerely

Ed Humpherson

Director General for Regulation


Related Links:

Ed Humpherson to Richard Pengelly, Department of Health, Northern Ireland: Number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in the UK

Full list of recipients:

Lucy Vickers, Head of Profession for Statistics, Department of Health and Social Care

Clare Griffiths, Head of Profession for Statistics, Public Health England

Chris Roebuck, Chief Statistician, NHS Digital

Mark Svenson, Head of Operational Information, NHS England and Improvement

Siobhan Carey, Chief Executive and Registrar General, Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency

Eugene Mooney, Senior Statistician and Director of Information and Analysis, Department of Health Northern Ireland

Roger Halliday, Chief Statistician and Data Officer, Scottish Government

Scott Heald, Head of Profession for Statistics, Public Health Scotland

Stephanie Howarth, Interim Chief Statistician, Welsh Government

Richard Roberts, Head, Vaccine Preventable Disease, Public Health Wales