All 16 and 17-year-olds in England will be offered their first Covid jab by 23 August, under a new target set by the Health Secretary.
Sajid Javid on Sunday said that offering young people the vaccine by this date will allow those teenagers in that age bracket the two weeks necessary to build maximum immunity before returning to school in September.
People aged 16 and 17 will be able to get vaccinated at one of more than 800 GP-led vaccination sites, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Thousands will be invited, including by text and letter, to book their appointments through GPs or via walk-in centres, it added.
Meanwhile, Dr Maggie Wearmouth, a GP and member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said it is “tragic” that people are not getting fully vaccinated due to disinformation.
She said people who had their first jab back in March or April and have not had a second jab are effectively going into the winter unvaccinated.
Dr Wearmouth told Times Radio: “I personally send a lot of text messages to my patients asking them to make contact with me so we can talk through this, whether they’re worried, whether they’ve had side effects, whether they feel that one jab is enough for them.
“So there’s a lot of disinformation out there and when I do finally talk to some of these people, they think they’ve got allergies or contraindications in some way, medication they’re on, so often they’re telling me things about why they can’t have them, and I’m looking at their medical records and I know that’s not the case.
“So there’s a lot of disinformation out there that people are making reasons why they can’t be fully vaccinated, and that’s tragic because actually a half-vaccinated person is a non-vaccinated person and therefore all that energy and that vaccine is essentially going to go to waste this winter.”
The latest stage of the vaccine drive comes as the government said a further 93 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 130,894.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 155,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
As of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 29,520 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government added.
Experts have warned that high levels of coronavirus infection and rising case rates mean the UK is “running hot” when it comes to managing the spread of the disease.
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, on Friday said while vaccines are reducing the number of hospital admissions and deaths, high case numbers “still place an unnecessary burden on the NHS”.
The rate of new cases of the virus is currently rising in all four nations, suggesting the sharp fall in Covid-19 cases that had been under way since mid-July has now come to an end.
Separately, the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey show levels of coronavirus infection remain high across much of the UK.
Prevalence is highest in Northern Ireland, where about one in 55 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 last week, followed by England, where the number is about one in 75 people.
In Wales, where about one in 220 people are estimated to have had the virus last week while Scotland was the only area to see a fall with about one in 190 people had Covid-19 in the week to August 7, down from one in 120.
The DHSC said that some 100,000 text messages are also being sent to teenagers within three months of turning 18, inviting them to book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine by 23 August, the DHSC said.
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