Patients under 30 will start to become eligible for Covid vaccination from tomorrow, starting with those aged 25-29, NHS England has announced.
And the health secretary has said that the JCVI is expected to issue updated advice on the potential rollout of the jab to children aged over 12 within ‘weeks’.
NHS England today said that it will begin inviting around three million additional patients via text to book their first jab from tomorrow, with an update to the national booking service planned for 7am.
It added that GPs should also ‘urge the newly eligible to come forward, over the coming days’.
Eligible patients aged 39 and under, or who are pregnant, will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with JCVI guidance updated last month.
This marks the beginning of the 12th and final cohort in the UK vaccination programme – those aged 18-29 – and falls on the six-month anniversary of the first jab’s delivery in the UK on 8 December 2020.
It comes as health secretary Matt Hancock told the House of Commons this afternoon that JCVI advice on vaccinations on over-12s ‘will be available in a matter of weeks’.
He said: ‘I can confirm to the house that I have asked the JCVI, the committee that advises us on vaccinations, to come forward with clinical advice on vaccinating 12-to-17-year olds and we’ll listen to that clinical advice.
‘I know they’re working hard on it now and I’ll of course come to the house specifically and explain the proposed approach.’
He also said that only three people hospitalised with the Delta variant, first identified in India, have had both doses of vaccine, adding: ‘It is reassuring that there is such a clear breakage of the previously inexorable link from cases through to hospitalisations and that is very good news.
‘This is why we have this race to get everybody vaccinated as soon as possible.’
The MHRA last week authorised the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine for use in teenagers aged 12-15, saying it would now seek JCVI advice on whether ‘routine vaccination’ should be offered to the over-12S.
The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for use in those aged 16 and above since December 2020.
However, there is currently no routine vaccination for under-18s in the UK, who should only be vaccinated if they have underlying health conditions are household contacts of someone who is immunosuppressed.
Meanwhile, the NHS is ‘pushing a major drive’ to encourage people to get their second dose of the vaccine, NHS England said.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens added: ‘Tomorrow is a watershed moment as the world-beating NHS vaccination programme enters the home straight of our race to offer everyone their first dose.
‘The NHS vaccination programme is a real team effort and it is a testament to NHS teams across the country, that we are able to open up to people in their twenties just six months on from delivering that world first jab to Maggie Keenan.’
The ‘tireless efforts’ of NHS staff have ‘quite simply saved lives’, he said.
According to the latest Government vaccination data, almost 40.5 million adults across the UK have received their first dose, while almost 28 million have received their second.