The UK will go through the “most dangerous time” of the pandemic in the weeks before vaccine rollout has an impact, England’s chief medical officer has warned.
Prof Chris Whitty urged people to minimise all unnecessary contact.
The next few weeks will be “the worst” of the pandemic for the NHS, he said.
Thousands more people are due to receive a vaccine this week as seven mass centres open across England.
NHS England said hundreds more GP-led and hospital services would also open later this week.
The government is aiming to vaccinate around 15 million people in the UK – the over-70s, healthcare workers and those required to shield – by mid-February.
Prof Whitty told BBC Breakfast: “This is everybody’s problem. Any single unnecessary contact you have with someone is a potential link in a chain of transmission that will lead to a vulnerable person.”
He said there were over 30,000 people in the NHS with Covid-19 as of Sunday – compared to about 18,000 at the peak last April.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the proposals for vaccine distribution would be the “keystone of our exit out of the pandemic”.
The government will also publish its first daily figures which will reveal how many people have been given the vaccine.
Mr Hancock said on Sunday about two million people in the UK had been vaccinated, with some 200,000 jabs administered in England daily.
Around one in 50 people is infected across the UK.