All adults in England are expected to be able to book a COVID jab “by the end of this week”, the head of the NHS has said.
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS in England, said the health service hoped to “finish the job” of vaccinating people over the next month.
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He told the NHS Confederation conference: “It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the COVID vaccination programme…
“By July 19 we aim to have offered perhaps two-thirds of adults across the country double jabs.”
He also said that from today 23 and 24-year-olds would be able to book an appointment.
“I expect that by the end of this week, we’ll be able to open up the National Booking Service to all adults age 18 and above,” added Sir Simon.
“Of course, vaccine supply continues to be constrained, so we’re pacing ourselves at precisely the rate of which we’re getting that extra vaccine supply between now and July 19.”
Over-18s in Wales and Northern Ireland can already get a jab, and in Scotland people over 30 are eligible.
Giving the jab to younger adults is important in controlling the recent increase in Delta variant cases as most new infections are now among this group.
Nearly 41.7 million people in the UK have had a first dose, while nearly 30 million have had both.
The government aims to give all adults a vaccine by the end of July and ministers hope millions more can be administered before the new date for easing remaining COVID restrictions.
While hospitalisations have risen slightly in recent weeks, Sir Simon also told the conference that only 1% of beds in England were occupied by COVID patients.
He said the age distribution of patients had “flipped” due to older people mostly having had both jabs.
“Back in January, it was 60/40 – 60% of beds occupied by people over 65, 40% (occupied by people) under 65.
“Now it’s flipped to 30/70, so it’s about 30% occupied by people aged 65 and over 70% by younger people whose prospects are much greater,” said the NHS boss.