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England’s top doctor is urging students who are not yet vaccinated to get their COVID jab in freshers’ week with dozens of universities setting up pop-up clinics and walk-in centres as the new academic year begins.
As tens of thousands of young people head off to university this week, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, is reminding soon-to-be freshers that getting the life-saving jab will give them the best possible protection against coronavirus.
In a drive to get as many young adults jabbed as possible, many universities, including Liverpool Hope University and Queen Mary’s in London are setting up pop clinics during welcome week.
A walk-in finder on the NHS website allows students or anyone who is eligible to enter their postcode and find their nearest centre for both first and second doses.
Everyone aged 18 and over is also able to book an appointment through the National Booking Service, and the second dose can be given in a different location to the first as long as eight weeks have passed.
Students can easily book their second jab at a pharmacy, GP practice or vaccination centre in their new town or city.
Since the NHS made history by delivering the first COVID vaccine outside of clinical trials in Coventry in December, more than 77 million doses have been delivered with more than four in five adults double vaccinated.
The NHS has this week kickstarted the booster programme with eligible groups being invited for their top up jab.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: “Starting university is a really exciting time and getting your COVID vaccine means you will be armed with maximum protection against the virus.
“It is fantastic to see the enthusiasm from young people with more than 3.4 million people aged between 18 and 24 already having their first jab.
“With many universities set to run pop-ups and walk-ins throughout the first weeks of term it has never been easier to get protected, so I urge anyone yet to be vaccinated to take up the offer as soon as possible”.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Starting university is one of the most significant moments in the lives of millions of people every year – and having your jab could be one of the most important things you do to ensure you get the best out of it.
“The life-saving vaccine is making the difference in our return to a more normal life thanks to the wall of defence each jab helps build – with 230,800 hospitalisations and 24 million cases prevented.
“I urge everyone who has not yet got the vaccine to do so as quickly as possible, to not only protect yourself but also your new university community”.
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 System.
Freshers should also make sure they register with a GP in their new home if they have moved away for university.
Vaccines have been administered at hundreds of convenient locations across the country, such as mosques, museums, football stadiums and other community hubs.
As per JCVI guidance, 16 and 17 year olds are being offered one dose of the Pfizer vaccine at walk-in centres across the country.