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Covid: Vaccine rollout extended to all over-40s in England
30 April 2021, 00:03 | Updated: 30 April 2021, 09:38
People aged 40 and over in England are now able to come forward for their first Covid jab, NHS leaders have announced.
Text messages will be sent to 40 and 41-year-olds on Friday as the vaccine rollout is extended to another age group.
It comes after nearly three-quarters of a million bookings were made on Monday and Tuesday after jabs were offered to people aged between 42 and 44.
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."
After the 42-44 age band were sent texts this week, it means another 2.5 million more people have been invited for a vaccination, NHS England said.
So far, nearly 29 million people in England have received their first Covid jab in England, equating to roughly two-thirds of the adult population.
NHS England figures published on Thursday also show that nearly 12 million people had received their second dose by 28 April, making them fully vaccinated against the virus.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who received his first jab 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."
He and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also announced on Friday that Britain will host a global summit in 2022, alongside a major scientific coalition, aimed at supporting plans to accelerate vaccine development in response to future pandemics.
The event, which will also be run by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), seeks to raise money from the international community to support the goal of slashing vaccine development time to 100 days - roughly one-third of the time that it took the world to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
Professor Stephen Powis, medical director for the NHS in England, encouraged those who received a vaccine invite to come forward and get their jab.
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."
People will be able to book their jab at a vaccination centre or pharmacy site through the national booking service when invited to come forward.
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.