Covid vaccine: More than 700,000 jabs booked on day rollout opened to over-18s

Hannah Miller reports on the huge rise in the number of coronavirus vaccine bookings

More than 700,000 coronavirus vaccines in England were booked on the day the NHS vaccination programme invited people aged 18 to 20.

Approximately 721,469 appointments were made in England through the national booking service on Friday, more than 30,000 an hour or more than eight every second.

NHS England said this does not include appointments made through local GP-led vaccination services, or people getting jabbed at walk-in centres.

Everyone aged 18 and over is being urged to arrange a jab if they have not yet had one, as the health service enters the final push to protect the country against the virus.

Public Health England said the Delta variant cases in the UK, which now accounts for 99% of all coronavirus cases in the UK, is being driven by younger age groups.On Saturday, thousands of jabs were administered after stadiums and football grounds in London were transformed into mass vaccination centres.

Giant jab clinics were set up at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre.

There were also pop up clinics at universities, such as in York and Canterbury.

'I've been waiting a long time' to get the jab'

A 21-year-old woman, who had her vaccine at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium, said she was "really happy" to finally get her jab after "waiting a long time".

She told ITV News: "I feel better about going home with my parents - they've both been double vaccinated. But yeah, I'm really happy. I feel a lot safer and better."

She said that although she felt a lot of people around her age are contracting the Delta variant of the virus, she is not too concerned, knowing that most vulnerable people have already been vaccinated.

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The bookings surge came at the end of a week which had already seen almost 1.8 million appointments made in just three days, after the NHS vaccination programme opened up to people in their early twenties.

Some 692,299 appointments were made on Tuesday when 23 and 24-year-olds became eligible for a jab, with another 635,478 booked on Wednesday when the programme was extended to those aged 21 and 22.

There were another 456,366 appointments made on Thursday, meaning more than 2.5 million appointments were booked in just four days since booking opened to under 25s on Tuesday.

NHS Chief executive says over three million people in their twenties have had the covid jab so far. Credit: PA

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This pandemic has been a challenge for everyone but the various restrictions have hit young people particularly hard.

“That’s why it’s good news that Covid vaccinations are now open to all adults across the country, and already well over three million people in their twenties have now had their first jab.

“So if you’re 18 and over and haven’t yet had yours, now’s the time. It’s the single easiest way to protect yourself, keep friends and family safe, and hopefully give us all our summer freedoms back.

People queue outside an NHS vaccination clinic at West Ham’s London Stadium in Stratford, east London Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

“Please encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same, as we’re now in the race to the finish line.

“The more of us who are vaccinated, the safer we all are, and the sooner freedom can return.”

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm young people are showing for vaccination across the country, and it is a testament to the fantastic work of the team in keeping as many people safe from Covid-19 as possible.

“If you’ve yet to book your appointment, I urge you not to hesitate in getting your jab and securing this protection for yourself and your loved ones.”

Matt Hancock said: "It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm young people are showing for vaccination across the country." Credit: PA

Government data up to June 18 showed that of the 73,766,593 jabs given in the UK so far, 42,679,268 were first doses – a rise of 218,636 on the previous day.

Some 31,087,325 were second doses, an increase of 188,858.