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NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens today joined nearly 22 million people in England who have received their first COVID-19 jab. Today marks another important milestone on the NHS vaccine rollout, with more than half of adults across England set to have had their first vaccination by the end of the day.
Sir Simon, 54, is among 2.4 million people aged 50 to 54 who are now eligible for a vaccine, 100 days after the first dose was administered anywhere in the world.
The NHS began texting this age group this week inviting them to book through the national booking service with follow up letters landing on doorsteps from tomorrow.
The chief executive of the NHS thanked all those involved in the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, as he received the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine today at the Westminster Abbey vaccination site.
Sir Simon Stevens, the Chief Executive of the NHS in England, said: “Today marks an important milestone as more than half of adults in England have now had their first NHS covid vaccination. I’m personally delighted to have had my Oxford Astra Zeneca jab this morning – it’s quick, painless and effective. We’re on track to offer everyone aged 50 and above their vaccine by 15 April, just as planned, so when you get your invitation our message is: please take us up on the offer, and join nearly 22 million other people across England who’ve now had their jab.”
Dr Jan Maniera, GP and clinical director for South Westminster Primary Care Network and Chair of Healthcare Central London GP Federation, said: “It has been an amazing opportunity to work in this unique setting on such a crucial programme for our country. This iconic site has brought together local GPs, Hospital clinicians, voluntary and faith leaders.
“We continue to encourage all those who are eligible to come forward and take advantage of these safe vaccines – this is our opportunity to protect ourselves and our communities against this devastating virus.
The NHS has been offering the vaccine to people who are most at risk as soon as doses have been made available, in line with independent advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
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 99% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
Last week (Tuesday 9 March) the NHS began texting people inviting them to book their lifesaving COVID jab, making it quicker and more convenient to get an appointment.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England. Text invites will also be received from local booking services through a GP-led team.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119.
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.