People aged 56 to 59 are being invited to book a life-saving COVID jab this week as the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, continues to gather pace.
Letters to 850,000 people aged 56 to 59 began landing on doorsteps from yesterday (Saturday) with another 850k due to land tomorrow (Monday).
The latest invites have been sent after more than 8 in ten people aged 65 to 69 took up the offer of a jab.
NHS staff have vaccinated more than 18 million people across England, meaning more than one third of the adult population, have already received the life-saving jab.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS national medical director for primary care and a GP, said: “The NHS vaccine programme is committed to protecting the country against coronavirus and it is testament to our incredible staff that we can now move on to the next age group.
“We must not forget that our success in vaccinating more than 18 million people is down to careful planning and the hard work of those staff.
“The vaccines are both safe and effective, so if anybody who is eligible but hasn’t been vaccinated yet, I’d urge them to go online or call 119 and get themselves booked in.”
People receiving the letters are invited to go online to the national booking service to arrange a jab at a time and location that is convenient for them. If they are not able to go online, they can call 119 free of charge.
The NHS is vaccinating in line with JCVI guidance which sees people invited to be vaccinated in order of risk, which increases with age and people aged between 50 and 55 are set to be invited shortly.
Health and Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS vaccination programme is in full swing and more than 21 million of the most at-risk people have already received their first dose.
“This includes more than 90% of those aged 65 and over and almost 9 in 10 people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
“It’s an extraordinary feat and we remain on track to offer a first vaccine to all adults by 31 July.
“We are now inviting people aged 56 to 59 to get their jabs and I urge everyone eligible to come forward as soon as possible.”
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, with the distribution of centres meaning 98% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
People can use the national booking service to reserve a slot at a NHS Vaccination Centre or one of the pharmacy-led services across the country.
Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are being asked not to turn up early to avoid creating queues.
Everyone will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they have their jab.
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 8 December.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, received his on 4 January.