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People aged 70 and over who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID and who would like to be are today being asked to contact the NHS to arrange a jab.
Until now the NHS has asked people to wait until they are contacted to help ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected first – and that remains the case for most people.
However, to ensure absolutely everyone is offered the vaccine, people aged 70 and over can now contact the NHS so they can be vaccinated by the middle of this month.
The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is through the national booking service which can be accessed at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.
The system allows patients to choose a time slot and location that suits them.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
If a suitable and convenient slot is not available people can also call their GP practice.
Many who have not yet booked an appointment are already receiving follow up letters and phone calls this week to encourage them to take up the offer of a jab.
GP teams have been asked to contact their clinically extremely vulnerable patients, who have been asked to shield, to ensure they have been offered the vaccine.
Anyone who received a letter in 2021 asking them to shield, should also receive an invitation from their local family doctor as well as an invitation from the national booking service inviting them for a jab.
People in priority groups who are given a vaccination appointment by both their local GP team and the National Booking Service should cancel the one they do not want so the slot can be used by someone else.
Health and social care workers, who are also among the top four priority groups for vaccination, should speak to their employer about arranging their jab.
NHS England is supporting general practice with an extra £10 for every vaccination given to someone who is housebound.
In under ten weeks, the health service has in England delivered 11 million vaccinations.
Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care at NHS England and practising GP, said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, is off to a strong start with every eligible care home receiving a visit and millions more people being vaccinated at one of over 1,500 centres across the country thanks to the tireless efforts of my colleagues.
“But if you are aged 70 and over, and haven’t yet received your vaccine, please come forward and make an appointment as soon as you can.
“The vaccine is safe, simple, and will offer you and those around you crucial protection against this virus.”
The call is part of a drive to ensure that everyone in an eligible group has the chance to get protected.
The national booking system allows people to arrange a jab at a Vaccination Centre or pharmacy service.
GP teams are following up with any of their patients they are yet to vaccinate.
Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are urged not to turn up early to avoid queues.
People who do not know their NHS number can still book an appointment through the national system but will only be given an appointment if they are in the top four priority groups.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Thanks to the huge efforts of the NHS, volunteers and local authorities we have vaccinated an incredible 12 million vulnerable people so far.
“We are on track to meet our goal of offering everyone in the top four priority groups a jab. So far we have said please wait until the NHS contacts you. I now urge everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination to come forward and contact the NHS to book in their jab. And if you have grandparents, relatives and friends over 70, please encourage them to book an appointment as soon as possible, so they can be protected against this awful virus.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and, by ensuring you and your loved ones get booked in for a jab, the NHS can give those most at-risk the protection they need as we continue to fight this disease together.”
Vaccines are currently being administered at over 1,500 sites across the country, from mosques and museums to rugby grounds and cathedrals.
Sites have been chosen to ensure that the vast majority of the population live within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to be protected against coronavirus, outside of a clinical trial, when she received the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on the 8 December 2020.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was jabbed on January 4 2021.