New NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard has praised GPs for the success of the Covid vaccination programme on her first outing taking up the post this week.
Ms Pritchard, who replaced Sir Simon Stevens as NHS chief last week, met staff who have delivered thousands of vaccinations over the last eight months at a clinic run by Alliance for Better Care GP Federation in Reigate, Surrey, part of the Surrey Heartlands vaccination programme.
During her visit she urged young people to get the Covid jab as new NHS figures revealed those aged 18-34 made up more than 20% of those admitted to hospital with the virus last month.
She said: ‘Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and volunteers almost nine in ten adults have had their first Covid-19 vaccination and more than 32 million have now had both jabs as part of the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health service history.
‘There is no doubt that the NHS vaccination programme is having a major impact, keeping around 52,000 people out of hospital and saving an estimated 60,000 lives.
‘However, we must not forget that there are more than 5,000 people who are seriously ill in hospital with Covid and more than a fifth of those admitted are young people.
‘NHS teams are putting on pop-up clinics and walk-in centres in addition to around 1,600 permanent sites, to make it as easy as possible to protect yourself, your family and your friends so do not delay sorting your jab.
‘And as the NHS gears up for a boosters drive this autumn we will be looking to offer other checks wherever possible to make every contact count when it comes to improving people’s health.’
The latest surveillance report from Public Health England showed Covid-19 case rates in England among all age groups were still dropping but the highest rate was among 20 to 29-year-olds with a seven-day rate of 611 per 100,000 population, followed by 10 to 19-year-olds with a seven-day rate of 512.4 per 100,000.
PHE Covid-19 incident director Professor Isabel Oliver said: ‘We are all getting back to doing the things we enjoy and meeting up with friends and family again, but we can’t drop our guard – Covid-19 has not gone away and cases are still high across the country despite recent drops.
‘We can all take simple steps to help stop the spread of the virus such as socialising outside, wearing a mask in busy indoor spaces and getting two doses of the vaccine.
‘We are calling on everyone to take up this offer, particularly in younger age groups where case rates are highest and uptake hasn’t been as high.
‘Sixteen and seventeen year olds are now advised to get the first dose of the vaccine, so when the NHS get in touch please do come forward and ensure you are protected as you take your next steps in life.’