The NHS saw a welcome surge in demand for vaccines this morning as half a million life-saving jabs were booked in a rush likened to the annual scramble for Glastonbury tickets.
By 12pm today, just five hours after eligibility widened to those aged between 25 and 29, the National Booking Service had seen 2.5 times the number of total appointments made yesterday, with 493,000 slots reserved, around 100,000 an hour on average and more than 1,600 per minute.
The rollout opened to those aged 25 to 29 today and the huge appetite saw people take to social media to compare it to the festival, with people posting about setting their alarms and being as excited as when they were booking for the music festival.
The charge for bookings by younger adults today is hoped to prompt even more people to come forward and comes on the six month anniversary of the world’s first COVID vaccine being administered to Maggie Keenan in Coventry.
Text messages began to be sent out to people in the newly-eligible age bracket this morning, with more receiving the invite throughout the day and this week.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This encouraging Glastonbury-style rush for appointments has already now seen hundreds of thousands of people between 25 and 29 book in for their NHS COVID jabs, as more vaccine supplies continue to come on line.
“Pleasingly this suggests strong enthusiasm for vaccination amongst people in their twenties, following hard on the heels of the millions of others who’ve already taken up our offer.”
NHS England’s primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani said: “It’s great that young people are so keen to get vaccinated as this remains our best defence against COVID, and so we would urge anyone receiving an invitation today, or this week, to book in and get protected.”
So far the NHS in England has delivered more than 57.8 million vaccine doses to over 75 per cent of adults.
More than half of adults are now fully vaccinated giving them maximum possible protection from coronavirus.
Around 3 million text messages are being sent out over this week to those eligible asking people to book in through the national booking service, with GPs also set to urge the newly eligible to come forward over the coming days.
Text invitations, which do not expire, appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
When invited, people will be able to book at one of the 1,600 Vaccination Centre, pharmacy or general practice sites across the country that are available through the national booking service. Vaccination centres are also available in convenient locations such as mosques, museums and rugby grounds.
Ben Davison, Executive Director of Product Development at NHS Digital said: “The online ‘Book a coronavirus vaccination’ service has enabled millions of people so far to book their vaccinations quickly, easily and in an accessible way and it’s great to see such demand from this age group.
“This is making a significant impact and we are proud to be part of the NHS effort to contain the pandemic and save lives.”