15 Feb 2021
The vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history – is off to a strong start. In just two months, the health service has vaccinated more than 15 million people, opened more than 1,500 vaccination services, visited over 10,000 care homes and issued over six million invitations from the National Booking Service.
The last invites to those aged 70 and over or on the Shielded Patients List who are yet to be vaccinated have been delivered the week of 8 February, meaning vaccines have been offered to everyone eligible whose contact details the NHS has.
We are determined that nobody should be left behind, which is why earlier this week we said that if you are aged 70 and over and haven’t had your first dose yet, please come forward now and make an appointment at nhs.uk/covidvaccination, or by phoning 119 if you can’t use the internet.
The NHS is also following up directly with the remaining people in this group by phone and letter, particularly those on the Shielded Patients List – if that is you and you haven’t been written to, you can contact your GP. .
This is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken. It is a huge challenge, and it’s important that we remember this will be a marathon, not a sprint. The NHS is well-used to delivering millions of vaccines a year but everyone involved has needed to go above and beyond to offer protection to all those who need it most in such a short space of time.
The large numbers of very sick patients that hospitals are still seeing – with 10,000 more people in hospital now than Christmas Day and more than double the number of people in mechanical ventilation beds - demonstrates that we cannot let our guard down now, and underlines the importance of offering the first dose to as many people as possible quickly.
And until the virus is under control, even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow all the guidance including social distancing, wearing face coverings and hand washing.
NHS staff are doing an incredible job to deliver the vaccination programme, at the same time as continuing to be there for everyone who needs care.
The public have an important part to play to help them do this:
- unless you are over 70 or on the Shielded Patient List, please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you when it is the right time;
- when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments at exactly the time you’re asked to, so that we can avoid queues in this cold weather;
- 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.