Everyone aged 44 and above in Britain will now be able to book their COVID-19 jab starting on Monday as the UK's National Health Service (NHS) vaccine programme expands further to more younger age groups.
Around half a million 44-year-olds will receive a text message inviting them to get their jab through the National Booking Service, with England's top doctor urging people to come forward for their jab when they are invited.
The move to the next age cohort in the vaccination programme comes alongside the latest NHS figures showing that more than two-thirds of people aged 45 to 49 have now been vaccinated as the programme moves through age and risk-based cohorts.
"Now that 95 percent of all over 50s have had their first jab, and more than two-thirds of those aged 45-49, we are opening up vaccinations to 44-year olds, said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
'The biggest vaccination programme in NHS history has delivered 45.5 million doses so far across the UK, and we are on track to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July. I encourage everyone who is 44 to book an appointment to get the jab it will protect you and your loved ones, and help put this pandemic behind us," he said.
The NHS said the decision to move to the next group of people aged between 40 and 43 will be set out in the coming days with the NHS vaccinating in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice and as supply allows.
"Thanks to NHS staff, people aged 45-49 have been hot on the heels of millions of people most at risk who were quick to take up the offer of a vaccine with more than two thirds getting their lifesaving jab, marking another medically important milestone in the biggest vaccination campaign in NHS history, said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England Chief Executive.
When the time comes, and you get that text, book an appointment to get your vaccine it is the best protection you and your loved ones will receive from this deadly virus, he said.
Since the UK's vaccination rollout began in December 2020, more than 28 million people have been vaccinated with a first dose in England, 63.8 per cent of the total population of adults aged over 18.
NHS staff have also carried out more than 10 million second doses and has been reminding people to attend their second dose to ensure they receive maximum protection.
NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, said: It is testament to the hard work of NHS staff that we are now able to vaccinate people in the next age group.
If you are aged 44, when you are invited to do so, please do book your jab as appointments become available it is simple, effective and provides vital protection against the coronavirus.
The NHS currently vaccinates against COVID-19 using three approved vaccines, Pfizer/BionTech, Moderna, and Oxford/AstraZeneca. People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
Text invitations appear as an alert from NHSvaccine, including a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including churches, mosques, temples, museums and rugby grounds, to ensure the vast majority of people live within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.