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Everyone aged 40 and over is now being invited to book a life-saving Covid-19 jab as the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in the health service’s history, goes from strength to strength.
Nearly three quarters of a million appointments were made on Monday and Tuesday as the NHS began inviting 44-year olds followed by people aged 42 and 43 by text.
Text messages are now going out to 40 and 41-year-olds today allowing them to arrange a jab at the click of a button through the national booking service.
Those aged 42 to 44 have already been text this week meaning in total another 2.5 million more people have been invited for their jab.
Since the vaccination rollout began in December, more than 28 million people have been protected with at least one dose in England – nearly two thirds of the adult population.
NHS staff have fully vaccinated more than 11 million people with second doses remaining a priority. It is vital everyone books in for their second jab to ensure they receive the maximum protection from coronavirus.
The NHS is vaccinating in line with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation as supply allows. Those eligible will be able to book once they are invited to do so.
NHS England Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking service opened to people aged 42 to 44.
“With second doses also proceeding apace, we’re now ready to invite all those aged 40 and over to join the most successful vaccination drive in health service history.”
NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: “The rapid rollout of the NHS vaccination programme, the swiftest in Europe, is down to months of careful planning and sheer hard work by nurses, doctors and countless other staff supported by our volunteers.
“If you receive a text inviting you for your jab, please follow the instructions provided and book – it is simple, effective and provides vital protection against the virus.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “The UK’s vaccination programme has been a phenomenal success so far, with more than 47 million doses administered and one of the highest uptake rates in the world.
“Building on this excellent progress we are now opening up vaccinations to 40 and 41 year olds. I got my jab yesterday and I urge everybody in these age groups to book a jab as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones from this dreadful disease.”
When invited, people will be able to book in at a Vaccination Centre or pharmacy site through the national booking service.
The NHS currently vaccinates using three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, all of which have been approved as safe and effective by the world leading medical regulator the MHRA.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,700 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, meaning the vast majority of the people 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 8 December 2020.
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.