As the largest ever NHS vaccination programme enters its last lap, local GP and Clinical Director of Shore Medical Primary Care Network Dr Andy Rutland has encouraged local residents to come forward for their first jab and remember to get their second dose, which they called “vital and lifesaving”.

The plea comes as people aged 40 and over are now able to book in their second jab on the national booking system from eight weeks after their first dose.

With everyone over the age of 18 now able to book in for the lifesaving vaccine, eligible people are being urged to get their first or second jab as soon as possible.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens announced on Tuesday that all people aged 18 and over will be eligible for the lifesaving jab by the end of the week.

Research this week showed how important the second jab is at protecting people against the Delta/Indian variant.

Studies have found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to be 96% effective against hospitalisation after two doses, while the Oxford-AztraZenaca is 92% effective.

The last push comes as the NHS in England passed the milestone of having delivered 60 million doses across England in just six months.

Over 900,000 doses have been delivered so far in the Dorset, from over 20 local vaccination sites.

Dr Rutland said “Thanks to the incredible work of NHS staff up and down the country, more than three quarters of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with over half having received both. 

I am thrilled than in Dorset, over half a million adults have taken up the offer of the jab and in doing so, are helping the country as a whole beat Covid.  

The offer of the vaccine is evergreen, so if you have been invited but are yet to make an appointment, please do so today.   Remember it is that second dose that really boosts protection for you and those close to you”

Jack recently had his jab at the Bournemouth International Centre.

He said “It was all very efficient, very quick – they explained all the risks very clearly and the jab itself was very quick.

“Follow the signs and follow the evidence; listen to the experts – don’t listen to any nonsense – have the jab!”

Bookings can be made via the National Booking Service, while people who cannot get online can call the service on 119 for extra support in doing so.

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to the NHS website to making a booking.

Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council, said “The vaccine is one of the key tools we have to getting back to normality and protecting ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. The data shows us that vaccinations are weakening the link between cases and hospitalisations, so as cases start to rise locally it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re fully vaccinated. You need to get the second dose for maximum protection, so if you haven’t had yours yet please do get an appointment booked in.”

Vaccinations are 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.

You will be offered a choice of appointments at NHS Vaccination Centres or pharmacy-led vaccination services, as well as some GP-led sites.