Millions set to receive Covid jab invite to their phone in NHS text drive to reach vulnerable people
More than two million people will receive text invites from the NHS over the weekend in a new bid to vaccinate those most at risk from Covid-19.
The NHS is texting millions of vulnerable people this weekend, urging them to get the life-saving Covid-19 jab in a renewed drive to protect those with underlying conditions such as diabetes and some forms of cancer.
GPs have already been inviting those with the conditions from their patient lists, but the NHS messages will enable them to arrange a jab at a vaccination centre or pharmacy-led service at the touch of a button.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: "We're sending out around two million NHS text invitations over the weekend as more vaccine supplies come online next week.
"Bookings are booming, with a record number of NHS Covid jabs arranged through our national service last weekend when over one million appointments were made."
Last weekend, more than 1.3 million appointments were arranged through the national booking service as people aged 55 and over were invited to get a jab.
The vast majority booked online, while a smaller number booked by calling 119.
More than 19 million people across England have now received a life-saving Covid vaccination.
Dr Nikki Kanani, NHS England's primary care director and a GP, said: “It is a testament to the hard work of tens of thousands of NHS staff, volunteers and many more that we have now vaccinated 19 million people in just over three months.
“Seeing the hope the vaccine brings to staff and patients has been a real career highlight and it is great to see that confidence in the biggest vaccination drive in NHS history continues with record numbers taking up their offer last weekend.
“More than a million appointments were booked for a lifesaving vaccination and now the NHS is redoubling its efforts to vaccinate people at increased risk to ensure nobody is left behind. It is never too late to take up the offer and I would urge anyone eligible who has yet to do so to come forward and protect yourself and others.”
Messages will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine’.
Texts include a web link for those eligible to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.
If people cannot or would prefer not to travel to a vaccination centre or pharmacy-led site, they can choose to wait to be invited by a local GP-led service.
Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds.
The distribution of centres means 99% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.
The North East’s first mass vaccination centre opened its doors in January at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.
It was followed by a second site at the Nightingale Hospital in Sunderland and a third facility at Durham’s Arnison Centre.
In March, Darlington Arena became the region’s latest large scale vaccination centre.