The NHS has started inviting patients in England aged 56-59 for their Covid jab, as the vaccination programme is said to be in ‘full swing’.
Letters went out to 850,000 people in this cohort on Saturday (6 March), with another 850,000 due to receive their invites today, NHS England said.
Those invited for a Covid vaccination in the 56-59 age group can use the national booking service to reserve a slot at a mass vaccination centre or pharmacy.
GP-led vaccination sites are currently focusing on cohort 6, but the BMA recently said they can vaccinate everyone in an eligible group.
This comes as more than eight in 10 people aged 65-69 have taken up the offer of the jab, according to NHS England.
More than 18 million people in England – over a third of the adult population – have received their vaccination, it added.
And across the UK, more than 21 million people have received their first dose, with health secretary Matt Hancock stating that the vaccination programme is ‘in full swing’ and remains ‘on track’ to offer a first vaccine to all adults by 31 July.
He added that the 21 million figure includes more than 90% of those aged 65 and over and almost nine in 10 people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
As of last Thursday (4 March), there were just under 11,000 patients in hospitals in the UK with Covid-19 – the lowest figure since October, Government figures show.
This is down 27% from the previous week. The one-week period before that saw a reduction of just under 20% – which shows the decline in hospitalisations is gathering pace.
NHS England primary care director Dr Nikki Kanani said: ‘The NHS vaccine programme is committed to protecting the country against coronavirus and it is testament to our incredible staff that we can now move on to the next age group.
‘We must not forget that our success in vaccinating more than 18 million people is down to careful planning and the hard work of those staff.’
NHS England said vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country.