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Everyone aged 60 and over across the North East and Yorkshire who has not yet had their first coronavirus vaccine dose will get their invite this week, the NHS has announced.
Almost two million letters will hit doormats across the country from today Monday 1 March as the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, gains fresh momentum.
They will invite people to make an appointment quickly and simply through the national booking service, for slots in one of dozens of Vaccination Centres and community pharmacies across the region.
They have been sent after around four in five people aged 65 to 69 took up the offer of a vaccination.
In all, over 2.6 million people in the North East and Yorkshire and more than 17 million people across England, over a third (35%) of the adult population, have now received their vital first dose of the vaccine.
NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said: “Since around four fifths of 65-69 year olds have now been vaccinated, we’re rapidly working our way down the generations, with people aged 60+ now able to come forward.
“And as expected vaccine supply increases in March, we’re planning for further acceleration as we head towards Easter.”
The push to get as many of the most at-risk people protected means nine in 10 people in the top four priority groups have received their first dose.
The minority of those who are eligible but have not yet chosen to come forward are still able to book an appointment, and the NHS is urging them to do so as soon as possible.
Dr Yvette Oade, medical lead for the programme in the region said: “NHS staff and volunteers have done an incredible job delivering vaccines to millions of people across the North East and Yorkshire in such a short time, and I know they will be looking forward to welcoming tens of thousands more over the coming days.
“When you receive your invite, or if you have received one already but not taken up the offer yet, please book as soon as you can so that you can join the millions of people who have already benefited from the safe and effective vaccines we have.”
“If you are not in one of the eligible groups, please continue to wait for us to contact you when it is your turn, and whether you have had your vaccine or not, please continue to follow all the guidance in place to control the virus and save lives.”
People are being invited to be vaccinated in order of risk, which increases with age or with some underlying health conditions.
The latest invites come after the NHS wrote out to almost 450,000 people aged 64, along with 600,000 who have recently been asked to shield and not yet been vaccinated.
GPs and their teams also continue to invite people of all ages with underlying health conditions as well as those they know to be living with a learning disability.
The latest batch of invites arriving this week will mean everyone in the first seven priority groups is now eligible for a vaccine, with people aged between 50 and 60 set to be invited shortly.
Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director, said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history and fastest in Europe, goes from strength to strength.
“I would like to thank my colleagues across the NHS, along with all the volunteers and others working on the programme, for their hard work which has seen more than 17 million people vaccinated in a matter of weeks.
“I would urge anyone who has been invited to take up the offer – it doesn’t matter when you were invited you can still come forward and protect yourself and others.”
People can use the national booking service to reserve a slot at one of more than 120 NHS Vaccination Centres or almost 200 pharmacy-led services across the country.
The booking service can be accessed at http://www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Those who cannot go online can call 119 free of charge.
NHS teams are visiting those who are housebound and cannot travel to a vaccination service.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, with the distribution of centres meaning 98% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are being asked not to turn up early to avoid creating queues.
Everyone will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they receive their dose.