Speaking at a think tank event in Blackpool on Thursday afternoon, Mr Javid confirmed that the first person had received a jab under the scheme that will see millions of eligible people offered a Pfizer vaccine.
Catherine Cargill, who works at Croydon University Hospital in south London, was one of the first to get a vaccine under the new campaign that targets frontline key workers, anyone aged 50 and over, and those with severe health conditions.
She said: “I’ve just had my booster vaccine, my Pfizer vaccine, and I have had it ahead of the winter season to make sure I am protected, to make sure I can carry on working, I can carry on spending time with my family, and so I can carry on with my studies.
“I would definitely want to encourage you to get your booster shot when you are invited to do that.”
Hospital hubs have now started inoculating key workers and GP-led vaccination services are set to follow in the coming days, followed by vaccination centres and pharmacy-led sites who will join the campaign next week.
As well as announcing the start of the NHS booster campaign, Mr Javid was keen to emphasise the “two backlogs” the country faces as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic.
He told attendees at The Centre for Social Justice event that the first and “priority” is the 5.5million people on NHS waiting lists, but that the other issue was dealing with a “social backlog in mental health and public health”
Mr Javid said: “Passing the peak of the pandemic has been a bit like a receding tide, revealing the underlying health of our nation. It’s revealed some fractures within and in many cases the pandemic has deepened those fractures.”
He pointed to disparities in Covid admissions between the most and least deprived parts of the country, and the difference in mortality rates between white people and people from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups.
He added: “These are symptoms of a different disease, the disease of disparity.”
The health secretary said as part of efforts to “level-up” health in the country and fix inequalities in health outcomes he was launching the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID).
He said it had a mission to “level-up health and ensure everyone has a chance to live happy and healthy lives”.
Mr Javid said it would focus on “preventable health conditions” such as obesity, drugs, alcohol and tobacco, but would also look at “health inequalities and access to health services”, as well as probing “wider factors” that impact poor health, such as education, housing and environment.
He added: “While I said we can’t level up economically without levelling up in health, it’s equally true that we can’t tackle health disparities without tackling wider disparities too.”
Mr Javid also addressed mental health, saying “too many people” had experienced loneliness and isolation over the pandemic, while numbers waiting for routine mental health treatment have soared.
Additional reporting by PA
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