NHS chief urges people to take up ‘evergreen’ vaccine offer as people of all ages come forward for first jab

The head of the NHS today urged anyone who has not had a COVID-19 jab to join the thousands flocking to take up the ‘evergreen’ offer every day as winter approaches.

More than a half a million adults have come forward for a first dose since the beginning of September, an average of around 9,000 a day over the past four and a half months.

Almost 3,000 people aged 80 and over came forward for their first COVID-19 vaccine during this period and in one day last week, the NHS jabbed more than 100 people who are 80 and over for the first time.

NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said the figures were a “timely reminder” that the NHS offer of a vaccine remains evergreen and encouraged more people to come forward to help protect themselves and their loved ones.

Since the NHS in England made history when Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry in December, more than 89 million vaccines have been delivered.

While more than nine in 10 people have taken up the offer of a vaccine, there are around 4.5 million people yet to come forward for their first dose.

Over 260,000 people aged between 18 and 29 have received their first vaccine since September, with recent data showing that people in this age group were four times as likely to be hospitalised if they were unvaccinated, compared to those who had received two doses.

The NHS also said there were 482 people aged between 18 and 34 admitted to hospital with COVID-19 in England last week, up by one third in three weeks.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive said: “These numbers are a timely reminder that it is never late too late to get your lifesaving COVID-19 vaccination – the offer from the NHS is evergreen.

“With the twin threat of COVID and flu, we are facing a winter like no other and so it is even more important for people to get their jabs – first vaccine, second dose, booster or influenza.

“After another really challenging year, we know people are looking forward to spending time with their families and loved ones at Christmas and having your vaccine will not only protect you but those around you.

“NHS staff continue to work flat out to help protect the country from the virus so please do come forward for your lifesaving vaccine”.

Since the NHS kickstarted its COVID-19 booster campaign in less than 48 hours after updated advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, NHS staff and volunteers have delivered eight million boosters in seven weeks.

The NHS is inviting those who had their second dose more than five months ago for their booster, allowing people to book their top-up jab in advance of becoming eligible so they can receive it as soon as they reach six months.

Statistics this week showed that the risk of death involving COVID-19 is 32 times greater in unvaccinated people than in those who had received both doses.

Anybody who received their first dose before the end of October will be able to receive a second dose before the new year.

There are more clinics delivering vaccines now than at any other point in the programme, including pharmacies, GP practices and other convenient community sites – almost every person registered with an English GP practice lives within 10 miles of a fixed vaccination location.

Everyone aged 12 and over can book an appointment for their first dose through the National Booking Service or can call 119 if they need extra support with their booking.

A walk-in finder on the NHS website allows anyone who is eligible to enter their postcode and find their nearest centre to ‘grab-a-jab’ without an appointment at certain centres across the country.

Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said: “NHS staff have worked round-the-clock to care for patients throughout the pandemic and as they head into a tough winter of flu and COVID-19 we must all do our bit to support them.

“This virus is not just affecting older people – 482 people aged 18 to 34 were admitted to hospital with COVID-19 last week and long COVID remains a serious condition for many. Getting your COVID-19 vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter, and it’s not too late to get your first dose if you haven’t already”.