LONDON: Around 1 million people in the UK aged 21 and 22 will begin to be called forward on Wednesday to book their coronavirus vaccine, as the National Health Service (NHS) led COVID-19 vaccination programme expanded the age-based rollout to cover further younger categories.
The latest expansion leaves only 18 to 20-year-olds yet to be contacted for their first doses, even as the second doses for all those aged 40 and over and being encouraged to be brought forward as part of efforts to control the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19.
The NHS has said that by the end of this week it is expected that all those aged 18 or over would also be able to book their jabs.
"We're almost at the final hurdle of offering lifesaving jabs to all UK adults, with both vaccines providing the fullest possible protection against symptoms, serious illness and hospitalisation from this awful virus and moving us a step closer to beating this pandemic," said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
:I urge everyone aged 21 and over to get your vaccines booked in as soon as possible to not only secure this extra defence for yourself, but to protect your loved ones too," he said.
Figures released this week show the NHS in England has now delivered over 60 million vaccinations and that more than 30 million people in the UK have received their second doses, which has been shown to provide maximum protection against the Delta variant - first identified in India.
"The largest-ever NHS vaccination campaign is in the home stretch of the first dose roll-out the vaccine is the most important step you can take to protect yourself, your friends and family so it's really important everybody in the latest eligible groups books themselves in to get their jab and plays their part in this huge national effort," said Dr Emily Lawson, lead for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme.
The NHS said that over 1 million appointments were booked by people in their 20s in just one day last week, which shows a welcome enthusiasm of younger adults to get vaccinated.
When invited, people are able to book at one of the 1,600 Vaccination Centre, pharmacy or general practice sites across the country that are available through the national booking service.
Vaccination centres are also available at accessible locations such as mosques, temples, museums and rugby grounds.
The NHS confirmed that people aged 39 and under and pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines in line with updated guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), following reports of some extremely rare blood clotting related to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine in younger age groups.