The NHS vaccination programme continues to make strong progress.
Thanks to the thousands of people involved, the NHS has now offered vaccines to everyone aged 30 and over as well as millions of health and social care workers, unpaid carers and people at higher clinical risk.
Over 53 million vaccines have been delivered in total. We are still on course to offer all adults with a first dose by the end of July.
PHE analysis shows that individuals who receive a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine have approximately 80 per cent lower risk of death from COVID-19 compared with unvaccinated individuals. It also shows protection against death from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rises from approximately 80 percent after one dose to 97 per cent after two doses.
In line with government and JCVI guidance, the NHS is contacting people in the highest priority groups, to bring forward when they receive their second dose of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination, if they haven’t already had it. This is so people at greater risk of getting seriously ill due to coronavirus can get maximum protection sooner.
The NHS has been offering the second dose of vaccine up to 12 weeks after the first dose, which circulating in some parts of the country, we must ensure people are at greatest risk can get their second dose earlier – at around 8 weeks after their first – or as soon as possible if they haven’t already had it.
The NHS will contact people directly so please wait to be contacted if you think you are in this group.
This was a huge logistical challenge that required months of planning but also great agility, accuracy and speed. This would be a massive achievement in normal times, but to do so at a time when the NHS has been dealing with the winter wave of infections which saw more than 100,000 patients admitted with COVID-19 in January alone is nothing short of remarkable.
You can find out how to get your vaccine at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119. If you are eligible but are not able to book through the national booking service, you can speak to your GP.
Invites are now being sent to 30 and 31 year olds as we work our way down the age groups as quickly as supplies allow.
If you receive one, please do act on it as soon as possible so that you can join the millions of others who are helping to protect themselves and others.
If you already have an appointment over the coming weeks, whether for your first or second dose, this remains in place and it’s really important that you attend it as planned.
The first dose of both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offer good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection everyone will need a second dose.
Millions of people are now benefiting from protection from the virus and this has contributed to dramatic falls in infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
But NHS staff are still having to work hard to deliver the largest vaccination drive in our history, at the same time as providing care for everyone who needs it.
So we need the public to continue to play their part too:
- unless you have been invited before, please don’t contact the NHS to book a vaccine, we will contact you when it is the right time
- please attend your booked appointments at exactly the time you’re asked to, and make sure you come back for your second dose
- and whether you have had your vaccine or not, please continue to follow all the guidance in place to control the virus and save lives
Authorisation of Janssen vaccine
The MHRA announced on 28 May that the COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen meets the expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness. The independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) has endorsed the MHRA’s decision.
Earlier this year, the single-dose vaccine was shown to be 67% effective overall in preventing COVID-19 infection and 85% effective in preventing severe disease or hospitalisation. 20 million doses of the vaccine have been secured for the UK and first deliveries are expected to arrive later this year. The JCVI will provide updated advice for the vaccine before doses become available.
Use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
Following reports of an extremely rare condition involving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots, updated guidance was published on 07 May 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-blood-clotting-information-for-healthcare-professionals/information-for-healthcare-professionals-on-blood-clotting-following-covid-19-vaccination
Vaccines during pregnancy
Following recent JCVI guidance, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine. All vaccination sites offering the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines must ensure that pregnant women are able to book appointments at the same time as non-pregnant women, based on age and clinical group. PHE’s Green Book has been updated to reflect this advice and can be found here.
Real-world data from the United States shows that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Oxford/AstraZeneca or other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed before they can be offered routinely.
Leaving nobody behind
While this important milestone means that NHS teams can now move on to offer first doses to the next priority group, it’s important that people know that if they have been invited but haven’t taken up the offer yet, it remains in place.
So if you are in one of those priority groups – meaning you are 30 or over, have a health condition that puts you at greater risk, or are a health or social care worker – and you haven’t booked your first dose yet, the time to do so is right now.
You can find out how at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119. If you are eligible but can’t find any suitable appointments through the national service, you can speak to your GP, or to your employer if you are a health or social care worker.
If you already have an appointment over the coming weeks, whether for your first or second dose, this remains in place and it’s really important that you attend as planned.
The NHS is continuing to work extensively at local and national level, including with community and faith leaders, to engage with those communities where there is still some hesitancy, to make the positive case for vaccination and counter misinformation. Across the first 11 priority groups, most people across all ethnic minorities have already taken up their first dose.
As we move onto new age groups, the National Booking Service has stepped up a text message service for COVID-19 vaccination invitations and reminders.
People receiving these text messages will be invited to book online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119.
The text message will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and show as being sent from NHSvaccine. You can trust your text message is genuine if it comes from ‘NHSvaccine’, includes a link to the NHS.uk website and gives you the option of phoning 119.
Vaccination services and workforce
As supplies have increased the NHS has increased capacity to deliver them, and we are now delivering vaccines in more than 1,600 individual services.
As supplies allow, the NHS will be able to deliver protection to more people from more local services.
The NHS has been planning meticulously to ensure that people can get a second dose when it is the right time for them to do so. Over 20.7 million second doses have already been administered.
People who received their first dose in a hospital hub or through a GP service will be contacted to receive their second dose. They do not need to contact the NHS.
People who booked their appointments through the national booking service (online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by ringing 119) will have booked both their first and second appointments at the same time.
People who rang 119 will have been given details of their second appointment over the phone.
People who booked online can remind themselves of the place and time of their second dose using the ‘manage my appointments’ section on www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.
Millions of people are already benefiting from protection from the virus and this has contributed to dramatic falls in infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
Urgent care is still available for those who need it, so we would urge people not to put off coming forward. We continue to encourage people to use 111 first for urgent care so that they can be directed to the best local service for them, or 999 for life-threatening illness or injuries.
Every member of the public can support our key workers and the national effort by following the rules where they live to try to contain the virus and remembering hands, face, space at all times.