All 16- and 17-year-olds should be offered their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by next Monday (23 August), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said.
The new target, announced yesterday (15 August), comes just 10 days after NHS England updated its enhanced specification for phases one and two, giving practices the go ahead to begin vaccinating the age group.
The DHSC said that introducing the target would give children ‘the vital protection provided by the vaccine before returning to school in September’.
So far, more than 250,000 people below 18 have received their first dose. There are around 1,400,000 16- to 17-year-olds according to ONS data.
The DHSC said that ‘thousands will be invited including by text and letter to book their appointments through GPs or via walk-in centres’.
This comes as the latest data shows vaccine hesitancy dropped from a rate of 14% to 11% among those aged 16- to 17-years.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS medical director of primary care, said: ‘Now as teenagers prepare to head back to school or college or into their first full-time jobs, once again NHS staff are doing everything they can to offer young people the lifesaving vaccine as quickly as possible to protect themselves and others.’
Nearly 87.5 million doses have been administered in the UK in total, with just over 47 million people receiving a first dose.
This follows the news that GP practices and primary care networks delivered 4.2 million Covid vaccines in June, according to NHS Digital data.
However, as many as 75% of practice managers, practice nurses and GPs say they have suffered verbal abuse from patients during the vaccination campaign.