The NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history and the most precise in the world, is now open to people in their thirties.
Those aged 38 and 39 are the first to qualify for a jab with around a million people being sent text messages that allow them to access the national booking service at the touch of a button with further invitations to follow in the coming days and weeks.
The move to the next age group comes alongside nearly three quarters of people aged between 40 and 49 having had their first dose, less than a fortnight after they were offered a jab.
Since the vaccination rollout began in December, nearly 30 million people have been vaccinated with a first dose in England, two thirds of the total adult population.
More than one third of adults have had both doses, meaning they have maximum protection from the virus, with second doses remaining a priority.
Pregnant women will also be able to book through the national booking service from tomorrow (Thurs) and will be directed to vaccination centres offering Pfizer and Moderna in their local area in line with JCVI Guidance. They can also speak to their GP practice or maternity service if they have any questions about the coronavirus vaccine or can talk to a healthcare professional at their appointment.
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis, said: “The success of the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination programme is not by accident but down to the careful planning and precision of NHS staff who have now delivered over 45 million first and second doses in the fastest and quickest vaccination drive in NHS history.
“With nearly three quarters of people in their 40s having already received their first jab, the NHS is opening up to people aged 38 and 39 from tomorrow. We must not forget that behind the huge numbers of people jabbed, there has been a huge amount of hard work from our staff, aided by incredible volunteers across the country. We are incredibly grateful for their efforts.
“When you get that text – book your appointment – and join the millions who have already been jabbed, protecting both yourself and your loved ones.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our incredible vaccination programme has already saved thousands of lives and has helped to significantly reduce hospital and infection rates, allowing us to begin safely easing restrictions.
“Vaccines are our way out of the pandemic and I’m delighted we are now inviting people aged 38-39 to get their jabs. I urge everybody to get the vaccine as soon as they are eligible to protect yourself and your loved ones.”
When invited, people will be able to book at one of the Vaccination Centre, pharmacy or general practice sites across the country that are available through the national booking service.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including 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.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, meaning the vast majority of the people live within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
The NHS is also sending text reminders to people who have not yet taken up their offer of jab and also to people overdue their second dose to ensure nobody is left behind.
The NHS currently vaccinates using three vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, all of which have been approved as safe and effective by the world leading medical regulator the MHRA.
People 39 and under without an underlying health condition will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with updated JCVI guidance last week.
For more information on the Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme visit the Healthier Lancashire & South Cumbria website.