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Invitations to get a COVID vaccine are landing on the doormats of all 16 and 17 year olds from today, in a further effort to boost take-up in this age group, as the biggest and most successful vaccination programme in NHS history expands further.
Over 360,000 people aged 16 and 17 have already had their jab – which includes those who were eligible previously eligible due to an underlying health condition, with more than 125,000 getting their jab in the two weeks since the NHS was given the green light to offer all 16 and 17 years olds the life-saving jab.
From today, (Thursday), 16 and 17 year olds will begin receiving letters, inviting them to come to their nearest walk-in centre with many already receiving invitations from their GP and taking up the offer.
The JCVI updated guidance on 4 August so that all 16 and 17-year-olds could be offered one dose of the vaccine, and anyone in this age group can now find their nearest centre through the ‘grab a jab’ NHS online walk-in finder, with more sites becoming available every day.
Follow-up text messages are being sent out tomorrow (20 August) to ensure NHS staff are vaccinating 16 and 17-year-olds as quickly as possible ahead of their return to school.
GPs are also inviting at-risk children aged between 12 and 15 years old, who are clinically vulnerable to COVID or live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus, with 30,000 children in this age group already protected.
NHS staff have delivered well over 74 million doses, since the NHS in England administered the first jab outside of clinical trials to Maggie Keenan in December 2020, and more 34 million adults are have now received both jabs.
Professor Sir Keith Willett, Head of the COVID-19 Vaccination programme in England, said: “Thanks to the dedication and hard work of NHS staff, and the teenagers who have already come forward for their jabs, the NHS has administered more than 125,000 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 16 and 17-year olds, protecting themselves, their families, and their friends from the virus.
“The vaccine is safe and effective with nearly nine in 10 adults already taking up the offer, and I would urge anyone eligible, especially those 16 and 17 year olds heading back into education or training, to get their life-saving jab.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “It is excellent to see the enthusiasm young people have shown to get a COVID-19 vaccine and help to build our wall of defence against this virus.
“I urge you to join the hundreds of thousands of 16 and 17 year olds who have already taken up the offer of vaccine as quickly as possible to ensure you get vital protection before returning to college or sixth form.
“Please don’t delay – vaccines are allowing us to live safely with this virus without restrictions and enjoy our freedoms.”
The National Booking Service (NBS) is currently open to anyone aged 18 or over, and to people within three months of their 18th birthday.
Since 12 August, when the NBS was opened to people shortly to turn 18, more than 126,000 eligible teenagers have been sent text messages inviting them to book their vaccine appointments.
The NHS has been jabbing at hundreds of convenient locations across the country, including mosques, museums, football stadiums and other community hubs, as well as a number of pop-up clinics at shops, festivals, and locations like Thorpe Park.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to COVID will be contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine. Those who are eligible include those with Down’s syndrome, or undergoing many cancer treatments, have had organ or bone marrow transplants or who are on the learning disability register.
The COVID vaccine will also be offered to children aged 12 years and over who live with someone who is immunosuppressed, such as those receiving chemotherapy or who have had a transplant
Second doses are available to people over 18 who had their first dose eight weeks ago, in line with JCVI guidance.