That take-up is staggeringly high among elderly people, standing at more than 90 per cent of over-70s and more than 97 per cent of 75 to 79-year-olds, he said.
But, the health secretary admitted: “For social care staff it’s around two thirds, so we’ve still we’ve still got a third who need to come forward. And that’s obviously incredibly important.”
And, on NHS staff, he added: “That’s around four fifths. Again, there’s a long way to go and we’ve just got to make sure that everybody comes forward and gets the jab.”
He said ministers had yet to decide how far daily infection figures (currently 11,000) and the number of patients in hospital (23,000) had to fall before restrictions could be eased.
Mr Hancock also stamped on the idea of showing “vaccine passports” to enter shops or hospitality venues – one day after Dominic Raab said they were being explored – insisting there was “no plan” to do that.
As invitations to be vaccinated go out to the next groups on the priority list – over 65s and young people with a health condition – the health secretary was questioned about gaps in the successful programme.
A study at a Leicester hospital has found that only 37 per cent of black members of staff have accepted the vaccine – and just 57 per cent of doctors of any ethnic background.
Asked what he would say to reluctant staff, Mr Hancock told the BBC: “It is the right thing to do and it is very important that you come forward and take up this vaccine.
“It’s important to you, it’s important for your patients and of course it’s important for the whole of society that as many people get vaccinated as possible.”
On the lockdown – with the reopening of at least some schools on 8 March the only definite date in the diary – Mr Hancock said: “There is a huge amount of speculation in the papers.
“I know people want to know the answer to when the lockdown will end and the prime minister will set that out next Monday, on 22 February. We are taking those decisions this week.”
And, on vaccine passports, he insisted they would only be considered for international travel – not domestic use – saying: “There are some countries around the world that are considering bringing in rules.”
He added: “We want Brits to be able to travel to those countries and therefore enable Brits to be able to demonstrate their vaccine status, so that sort of vaccine certification is something we are talking to our international counterparts about.”