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Thousands of young people nearing their 18th birthday can book in for their life-saving COVID jab from today (Thursday).
Teenagers within three months of turning 18 can now book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
Text messages will be sent to more than 100,000 eligible teens inviting them to arrange their jab at one of hundreds of convenient vaccine sites in England.
NHS chiefs are urging young people to get protected against the virus ahead of going to university in September.
Findings from the Office for National Statistics this week showed that willingness to get jabbed has increased among 18 to 21 year olds and more than 1.4 million people between 18 and 24 have already been jabbed.
Since the NHS administered the first jab outside of clinical trials in Coventry in December, almost 73 million doses have been delivered with more than 33 million people receiving maximum protection from the virus.
NHS medical director of primary care and deputy lead for vaccination programme in England, Dr Nikki Kanani, said: “There has been an incredible response to the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health history with nine in 10 adults in England now protected with at least one dose. As teenagers prepare to head to university or into their first full-time jobs, it is vital they get protection from coronavirus by getting their vaccine in line with updated guidance.
“Whether you are out and about enjoying your summer break before university classes start, or eagerly anticipating the freedoms that being 18 brings, it has never been easier to get your life-saving jab at one of the hundreds of vaccination sites or pop-up clinics across the country including festivals, theme parks, places of worships and town halls.”
In line with Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) guidance issued last week, the NHS is already vaccinating people who are 16 and 17 with a single dose of the jab at GP and walk-in sites, and more than 16,000 in this age received theirs last weekend.
Vaccination sites across the country are working hard to complete the rollout with more than 300 sites already offering the jab to 16 and 17 year olds including GP teams who began vaccinating eligible teens last week.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to COVID or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Young people across the country have shown fantastic enthusiasm towards our COVID-19 vaccines, which are saving tens of thousands of lives and preventing millions of infections.
“We’re working tirelessly with the NHS to ensure all 16 and 17 year olds can get vaccinated as quickly and as easily as possible, and thousands have already had their jab at GP surgeries and walk-in sites. I am very pleased that from today all 17 year olds who are within three months of their 18th birthday can book their vaccinations through the NHS website.
“For all those in this age group – book in your jab without delay and ensure you, your family and your friends are protected, just in time for the new school year.”
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.
The NHS has been jabbing at hundreds of convenient locations across the country, such as mosques, museums, football stadiums and other community hubs.
People who attended a walk-in clinic for their first dose will have their vaccination record updated online and will then be able to book in their second dose appointment using the National Booking Service.