PEOPLE aged 40 and over in England are now being invited to book their coronavirus jab, NHS leaders have announced.
NHS England said that text messages will be sent out from Friday to over 40s allowing them to arrange their jab appointments – as 34 million Brits are now protected with a first dose.
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People aged 40 and over can now get their Covid vaccineCredit: PA
It follows nearly three quarters of a million appointments being made on Monday and Tuesday after the vaccine rollout was extended to people aged 42 to 44, it added.
And the number of people falling ill from Covid has now dropped to the lowest level since the pandemic began – in a huge boost for the nation.
There are only 757 symptomatic cases a day in England – and the chance of getting infected is as low as one in 150,000 for those who have had both jabs.
NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking service opened to people aged 42 to 44.
“With second doses also proceeding apace, we’re now ready to invite all those aged 40 and over to join the most successful vaccination drive in health service history.”
NHS England said that with people aged 42 to 44 having already been texted this week it means 2.5 million more people have been invited for their jab.
It comes as the latest NHS England figures revealed more than 34 million people in England had received their first jab by April 28, nearly two thirds of the adult population.
The data, published on Thursday, also showed that nearly 14 million people had received their second doses, making them fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who received his first coronavirus vaccination at London’s Science Museum on Thursday, said: “The UK’s vaccination programme has been a phenomenal success so far, with more than 47 million doses administered and one of the highest uptake rates in the world.
“Building on this excellent progress we are now opening up vaccinations to 40 and 41 year olds.
“I got my jab yesterday and I urge everybody in these age groups to book a jab as soon as possible to protect yourself and your loved ones from this dreadful disease.”
Mr Hancock and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also announced on Friday that the UK will host a global summit in 2022 alongside a major scientific coalition aimed at supporting plans to accelerate vaccine development in response to any future pandemics.
The summit, which will be in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), aims to raise investment from the international community to support the UK and Cepi’s goal of slashing vaccine development time to 100 days.
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for the NHS in England, urged people who received a text invite to book their jab to do so.
He said: “The rapid rollout of the NHS vaccination programme, the swiftest in Europe, is down to months of careful planning and sheer hard work by nurses, doctors and countless other staff supported by our volunteers.
“If you receive a text inviting you for your jab, please follow the instructions provided and book – it is simple, effective and provides vital protection against the virus.”
NHS England said that when invited, people will be able to book in at a vaccination centre or pharmacy site through the national booking service.
Text invitations appear as an alert from “NHSvaccine” and include a link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
This comes as infections are so low that the pandemic is now moving towards an endemic, one expert claimed.
Current infection levels are among the lowest to have been recorded by experts at the ZOE Symptom Tracker app, with just 757 infections being logged each day in England.
There are currently 1,046 new symptomatic cases of Covid in the UK on average compared to 1,165 daily cases a week ago.
This is a decrease of 10 per cent from last week and study lead, Professor Tim Spector from King’s College London said that rates are beginning to plateau, moving the UK into a new era of the pandemic.
Three regions also recorded no new infections, these are the East of England, the North East and Northern Ireland.
The next round of lockdown measures are set to be relaxed on May 17 with pubs being able to open indoors and overnight visits permitted.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said there is “nothing in the current data” that suggests restrictions won’t be able to be lifted further next month.
PHE’s weekly surveillance report states case rates in all regions of England have either fallen very slightly or remain broadly unchanged.
Yorkshire and the Humber recorded the highest rate in the seven days to April 25: 44.7 cases per 100,000 people, down very slightly from 46.0 in the previous week.
South-west England had the lowest rate: 14.2, broadly unchanged from 14.4.