The head of the NHS today praised staff as the NHS vaccination programme enters a new phase, with people aged 65 and over together with an expanded group of clinically vulnerable people now receiving the life-saving Covid jab.
Over one million people aged 65 and over have now been invited to book a vaccination, with another 1.2 million set to be invited throughout the week, and the first to book in will be jabbed this morning.
Figures released yesterday showed that across the UK the NHS had vaccinated 15 million of the most vulnerable people, in line with the deadline set by the Government.
That includes 13,165,548 delivered in England alone, of which 12,675,663 were first doses.
The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest in the health service’s history and chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the “extraordinary” efforts of GPs, nurses, pharmacists, volunteers and thousands of others in protecting millions of people in just 10 weeks.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said:
“Hitting this milestone just 10 weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first Covid vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.
“The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.
“On behalf of the whole country it’s right to mark this successful first phase with a huge thank you to everyone involved in this extraordinary team effort.”
Sir Simon was speaking ahead of a visit to Oxford where he will review rollout of the next phase of the vaccination programme with NHS staff and volunteers, and discuss progress with the lead Oxford University researcher whose team developed the Oxford / Astra Zeneca vaccine and is now testing new covid booster jabs.
Penny Thewlis, 67, a vaccination volunteer and chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire, is one of those getting her life-saving jab today at the Kassam Stadium, home of Oxford United football club.
Penny will receive her jab from Professor Andrew Pollard who helped lead the development of the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine at the city’s University.
The NHS made history in January when Brian Pinker became the first person in the world to receive the Oxford / Astra Zeneca vaccine outside of a clinical trial.
Since then the NHS has been working through the first four priority groups, including offering vaccination to people aged 70 and over, care homes, the extremely clinically vulnerable and health and care staff.
In the next phase, GPs have been asked to offer jabs to clinically vulnerable patients, while people aged 65 and over will in the first instance be invited to book a vaccination at one of the vaccination centres.
Carers will also be offered the chance to get vaccinated. People who have received a letter can log on to the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.