Over two thirds of people aged between 65 and 69 have now had their first COVID vaccination, after invites went out a week ago, with people aged 64 also set to be called forward this week, NHS England has announced.
Anyone aged 65 to 69 who has not been vaccinated is now being urged to respond to their recent invite to get their life-saving jab at one of the more than 100 vaccination centres and almost 200 pharmacies across the country.
Those in this age group are now eligible to receive the vaccine, with more than one million invitation letters having arrived in homes across England this week, and online bookings open.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS COVID vaccination campaign continues full steam ahead – letters inviting everyone aged 65 to 69 went out a week ago, and already over two thirds of them have had their first COVID vaccination. Across England overall nearly a third of adults have now had their first jab, and early signs suggest this is contributing to the welcome fall in coronavirus hospitalisation that we’re now seeing.”
Anyone who is 65 or over can get an appointment in one of the vaccination centres by booking through the national booking service, as the NHS looks to help as many people in this age group get their jab and make use of available doses.
The fresh call to those aged 65 to 69 comes as invites for around 460,000 people aged 64 are due to land on doorsteps later this week, with this group of nearly half a million people set to be asked initially to book a slot at one of the larger vaccination centres.
NHS England medical director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “Over 14.5 million of the most vulnerable people in England have already safely had their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and with people aged between 65 and 69 now eligible too, we want everyone else in this age group to consider making this week your week to get a jab.
“They can – including from later this week anyone aged 64 – use the online national booking service to book in at their nearest Vaccination Centre or pharmacy, so anyone that is able to do so should act this week to seize their opportunity for a life-saving vaccine.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our vaccination programme is accelerating at unprecedented pace and in England we have now vaccinated over 14 million of those most vulnerable to COVID with their first dose.
“Every jab brings hope. Each jab means more of our loved ones will soon be protected from this awful virus and is another step forward in returning to normality in the future.
“I urge everyone who is eligible for the vaccine to come forward as soon as possible so we can beat this pandemic together.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “The NHS is working tirelessly to vaccinate those most at risk as quickly as possible and we are moving through the priority list at rapid pace.
“The vaccination programme continues to expand and we are calling on everybody who is eligible to book their appointments as soon as possible.”
Since the NHS became the first health service anywhere in the world to give out a COVID-19 vaccine in December last year, when then 90-year old Maggie Keenan got her jab in Coventry, more than 14 million people in England have had their first dose.
The NHS moved to the next phase of the biggest vaccination programme in its history earlier this week, with people aged 65 and over and an expanded group of clinically vulnerable people now receiving the vaccine, and a further acceleration to follow in the coming days when people aged 64 will receive their invites.
Larger vaccination centres have been opened nationwide, making use of sports stadiums, racecourses, museums and religious settings as convenient community settings where people can access a vaccine and maintain safe social distancing.
High street pharmacists have also joined the great mobilisation to protect the country, and people in the 65 and over age bracket can get their appointment at a community pharmacy, if they prefer.
With important progress already made – including everyone aged 70 years old and over offered a jab, and all care homes visited for vaccination where it’s safe to do so – the NHS is now seeking to drive uptake among the next priority groups.
People who have received a letter can log on to the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination and choose from 107 large-scale vaccination centres or 195 pharmacy led sites.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
Although having your NHS number to hand will reduce the booking time, knowing it is not required to get a slot for a jab, as anyone in the top six priority groups identified by the JCVI can book their appointment online or by phone.
Should anybody aged 65 to 69 want to wait to be called by their local GP vaccination service they are still able to do so.
The NHS made history in January, following the ground-breaking world-first Pfizer jab in December, when Brian Pinker became the first person in the world to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine outside of a clinical trial.