People aged 16 and 17 urged to get lifesaving COVID vaccine as NHS bookings open

People aged 16 and 17 are able to book their COVID-19 jabs through the National Booking Service from today as the NHS vaccination programme pulls out all the stops to protect people ahead of winter.

Almost three quarters of a million young people in England – around 60% – have already received their vaccine thanks to the NHS ‘Grab a Jab’ campaign, where the NHS online site finder helps people find their nearest walk-in vaccine clinic.

The online booking service now offers an additional way for people aged 16 and 17 to get a single shot of Pfizer in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.

Thousands of texts will be sent to eligible teenagers in the coming days.

Messages appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a web link to the NHS website to make a booking.

It is the latest phase of the NHS COVID vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history,

NHS staff have already been vaccinating young people at hundreds of convenient sites including Reading and Leeds Festival, night clubs and Thorpe Park.

More than 78 million vaccinations have been delivered and nearly 9 in 10 adults have had their first dose since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry, in December 2020.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Deputy Lead for the NHS vaccination programme, encouraged people to get the jab if they had not yet had the single dose. She said: “It is fantastic that uptake among young people continues to be strong with well over 700,000 people aged 16 and 17 having had their COVID-19 vaccination, thanks to the NHS ‘Grab a Jab’ campaign where NHS staff have been vaccinating at festivals, football stadiums and beachfronts.

“Alongside getting protected at one of hundreds of walk-in centres across the country people aged 16 and 17 can now also book through the national booking service where they will be able to get an appointment at a convenient local site at a time that suits them.

“The vaccine is safe and effective and will mean we can continue to do the things we enjoy most as well as giving vital protection to you and your family and friends.”

NHS staff and volunteers have also been vaccinating on university campuses at pop-up clinics and walk-in centres, urging students to get their jab or second dose during Freshers week and get protected as the new academic year begins.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “The vaccine rollout continues to be a remarkable success thanks to the ongoing work the NHS is doing to make it even easier to book your jab.

“I continue to urge everyone to book their jab as soon as possible to make sure you’re giving you and your family the best possible protection.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Getting the vital protection of the vaccine is now even easier with the National Booking Service opening to those aged 16 to 17 to book their vaccine.

“We know the vaccine works – with more than 123,100 lives saved, and 24 million infections and 230,000 hospitalisations prevented in England alone.

“So please book your vaccine as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones against the virus.”

People within three months of their 18th birthday can book both doses through the national booking service.

In line with guidance from the JCVI, the NHS is vaccinating this age group with a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Last week (September 16) the NHS began administering booster vaccines to eligible people just 48 hours after the government accepted the recommendation by the JVCI, which advises that everyone aged 50 and over, as well as clinically vulnerable individuals and frontline health and social care workers, receives a top-up dose.

Maternity Support Worker Catherine Cargill, who was one of the first to receive her booster vaccine, at Croydon University Hospital, is encouraging others who are eligible to do the same.

On Monday (September 20), the NHS also began vaccinating children aged 12 to 15, after the government accepted the UK Chief Medical Officers’ recommendation to extend the vaccine offer to this age group.

Like the flu and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines, COVID jabs are being delivered by local school age immunisation services who are working closely with schools to identify all eligible children.