HEREFORDSHIRE MP Bill Wiggin has asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson what more can be done to encourage more people to get the coronavirus vaccine.

The MP for North Herefordshire asked the question after Mr Johnson had been outlining the roadmap for lifting the coronavirus lockdown in England.

Mr Wiggin said people who don't take up the offer of a Covid-19 could be "holding the rest of us back" as restrictions might be in place for longer.

Appearing via video link in the House of Commons, Mr Wiggin said: "As an animal welfare champion I was delighted hear the Prime Minister mention zoos.

"But before we can get out there and go to the pubs, visit these places, I heard him describe certainty being more important than urgency and his concern for the unvaccinated, unprotected element of the population who could potentially be holding the rest of us back.

"What more can we do to encourage people who might not have taken up the first vaccine to make sure they get jabbed and let the rest of us out?"

In reply, the Prime Minister said he would encourage everyone to get vaccinated, but admitted that it was not currently approved for children and even those who had received the jab could catch Covid-19.

He referred back to the cautious approach which he had outlined in Parliament earlier this afternoon where he set out the earliest possible date for each stage of easing the lockdown in England.

"Of course I'd encourage everybody to take the vaccine which as I say is a wonderful thing.

"One of the problems is that at the moment we're not, as he knows, vaccinating children.

"Children are not approved for the vaccine, although they are possible vectors of the disease.

"And there's people who are vulnerable to the disease even if they have been vaccinated, albeit a percentage. So we're got to proceed with caution, but in a way we don't have to go back on."

In the first phase, all pupils in England’s schools are expected to return to class from March 8, with wider use of face masks and testing in secondaries.

Socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted from that date.

A further easing of restrictions will take place on March 29 when the school Easter holidays begin – with larger groups of up to six people or two households allowed to gather in parks and gardens.

Making a statement in the Commons, the Prime Minister acknowledged “the threat remains substantial” with the numbers in hospital only now beginning to fall below the peak of the first wave in April.

Modelling by the Sage scientific advisory panel showed “we cannot escape the fact that lifting lockdown will result in more cases, more hospitalisations and sadly more deaths”.

“And this would happen whenever lockdown is lifted – whether now or in six or nine months – because there will always be some vulnerable people who are not protected by the vaccines.

“There is therefore no credible route to a zero Covid Britain, or indeed, a zero Covid world and we cannot persist indefinitely with restrictions that debilitate our economy, our physical and mental wellbeing and the life chances of our children.”

The Prime Minister said his approach would be driven by “data not dates”, with the five-week gap between stages allowing time for the impact on infections to be determined and for companies to get ready.

Progress on the next steps out of lockdown will depend on meeting four tests: the success of the vaccine rollout, evidence of vaccine efficacy, an assessment of new variants, and keeping infection rates below a level that could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS.