All adults can now book a life-saving COVID jab vaccine, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens announced today.
Everyone aged 18 and over is being urged to arrange a jab if they have not had one as the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, the biggest in health service history, begins the final push to protect the country.
The NHS will start to send around 1.5 million texts to people aged 18-20 from tomorrow morning in what Sir Simon called a “watershed moment”.
The NHS is braced for high demand after the first group of people in their 20s to be offered vaccines booked more than one million appointments in a single day.
Tomorrow’s milestone comes fewer than 200 days since the NHS made history by delivering the first COVID vaccine outside of a clinical trial to Maggie Keenan in Coventry.
Already, around eight in 10 adults have had their first dose while more than half have had their vital second dose, meaning they have maximum protection from COVID-19.
Latest figures show the NHS in England has delivered over 60 million vaccinations just six months after making history when Margaret Keenan received the approved vaccine in Coventry.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This is truly a watershed moment: whoever you are, wherever you live, if you are aged 18 or older and you are yet to book your COVID jab, today should be the day you make that happen.
“Only months after delivering the world-first first jab hard working NHS staff have given more than 60 million vaccinations in England alone, saving thousands of lives and giving the entire country hope for a brighter future.
“Extensive planning and the tireless hard work of staff and volunteers have made the NHS vaccine programme an historic success.
“Now we are delivering a final push to protect the country so when your time comes, or if you haven’t done so already, please play your part and come forward to make your first appointment or get your second dose.”
NHS England lead for the COVID Vaccination Programme, Dr. Emily Lawson, said: “We’re in the final weeks of this historic drive to get everyone aged 18 and over their first COVID-19 vaccine, having already vaccinated more than three quarters of the population in only six months, and ensured that over half the country has had their second jab too.
“We know that getting both doses is vital to maximising the positive impact of the vaccines, if you’re offered the chance to bring forward your second jab, please do so and most importantly come forward for both appointments, and follow the tens of millions who have already got themselves this essential protection from COVID-19.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Offering all adults a jab less than 200 days after the programme launched is one of our country’s greatest collective achievements, saving over 14,000 lives so far.
“I cannot thank NHS staff, the Army, volunteers, manufacturers and all those involved in this extraordinary national effort enough.
“Today sees vaccines accelerate in their race with the virus – so now let’s finish the job. If you haven’t yet, come forward and get your jab.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “This is a momentous occasion in our national mission. In just over six months the NHS has administered more than 72 million vaccines across the UK at lightning speed and reached 4 in 5 adults. Now we are offering a jab to every single person over the age of 18 in England.
“We started with the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and, so far, we have saved more than 14,000 lives and prevented 42,000 hospitalisations in England alone.
“In our race between the vaccine and the virus, we’re approaching the final stretch and we are doing all we can to vaccinate people as quickly as possible with first and second doses. When you get the call, get the jab so we can put this pandemic behind us for good.”
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.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
People aged 39 and under who are eligible and pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with updated JCVI guidance.