More than half of people in their 30s in England have already received a coronavirus vaccine dose – despite that age group becoming eligible only just over a fortnight ago.
NHS England said that some 53 per cent of people aged 30 to 39 have come forward for a jab since the rollout was extended to them on 13 May.
On Wednesday, 30 and 31-year-olds became the most recent group to be offered vaccines, and within 72 hours more than five million people had made appointments through the national booking service.
The pace at which Covid-19 jabs have been administered to this younger cohort comes even despite the fact that the NHS is asking the clinically vulnerable and those aged 50 and over to bring their second jab forward due to concerns over the spread of the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India, which it is thought to be more transmissible than the Kent variant.
Hailing the new figures as “remarkable”, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This success is no happy accident but the result of months of careful planning and the sheer hard work and dedication of NHS staff.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is our most effective weapon against coronavirus and the best way of protecting yourself and loved ones, so, if you do one thing this bank holiday weekend, book your lifesaving jab and, crucially, if you're contacted by the NHS to do so, bring forward your second dose of vital protection.”
It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended earlier this month that the interval between first and second doses should be shortened from 12 weeks to eight for people in priority cohorts – with prime minister Boris Johnson having rejected calls from local leaders to start vaccinating all young adults living in Covid hotspots.
So far, 600,000 people have been invited to rearrange their second jab through the national booking service, with around a quarter moving their appointment earlier, NHS England said.
Research into how effective vaccines are against the Indian variant, published by NHS England last weekend, suggests that having two doses offers far more protection than just one.
Three weeks after the first dose was administered, both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were found to be just 33 per cent effective against the Indian variant and 50 per cent effective against the Kent variant.
Two weeks after a second dose of the AstraZeneca jab, the level of protection against the India and Kent variants rose to 60 and 66 per cent, respectively. For the Pfizer vaccine, the second dose offered 88 and 93 per cent protection against the two variants.
Overall, more than 32 million people have been vaccinated with a first dose in England – equating to nearly three-quarters of the total adult population. More than 20 million people have had both doses.
Across the UK, more than 63 million doses have been administered since the rollout began on 8 December – a figure which is just shy of the total UK population.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said he is “absolutely thrilled” at the progress in the 30s age group and thanked those coming forward “to do their bit to defeat the virus”.
“As we enjoy the reopening of pubs and restaurants again, vaccines will play a crucial role in protecting us and those around us,” he added.
“Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and I urge everybody to take up the offer when eligible.”
Additional reporting by PA
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