People over the age of 70 who have not yet been offered a Covid-19 vaccine are being encouraged to contact the NHS to book an appointment.
The health service in England has changed its messaging from “we will contact you” to “contact us” for those in the over 70 age bracket.
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The call for over 70s to arrange an appointment comes as the government is just days away from confirming if it has managed to meet its target of offering all people in the top four priority groups a Covid-19 vaccine by 15 February.
The priority list, set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, currently has nine groups in it, with the focus currently on vaccinating the top four groups.
These include all those aged over 70, health and social care workers, care home residents, their carers, and people deemed to be clinically vulnerable to coronavirus.
In an effort not to overwhelm the NHS, the initial messaging to the public was to wait until the health service contacted them to receive their vaccine.
However, the NHS is now calling for anyone aged over 70 who has not yet been vaccinated against coronavirus to get in touch to arrange an appointment.
Dr Nikki Kanani, medical director for primary care at NHS England and a practising GP, said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, is off to a strong start with every eligible care home receiving a visit and millions more people being vaccinated at one of over 1,500 centres across the country thanks to the tireless efforts of my colleagues.
“But if you are aged 70 and over, and haven’t yet received your vaccine, please come forward and make an appointment as soon as you can.
“The vaccine is safe, simple, and will offer you and those around you crucial protection against this virus.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock added that the government is on track to meet its goal of offering everyone in the top four priority groups a vaccine by mid-February, but urged those who have not yet been contacted to book an appointment as soon as possible.
He said: “So far we have said please wait until the NHS contacts you. I now urge everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination to come forward and contact the NHS to book in their jab.
“And if you have grandparents, relatives and friends over 70, please encourage them to book an appointment as soon as possible, so they can be protected against this awful virus.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and, by ensuring you and your loved ones get booked in for a jab, the NHS can give those most at-risk the protection they need as we continue to fight this disease together.”
How to book an appointment
People over the age of 70 can book an appointment for their vaccine via the NHS website, or by calling 119 if they are unable to get online.
If a suitable and convenient time is not available, people can also contact their GP practice to arrange their jab.
Health and social care workers, who are also among the top four priority groups for vaccination, should speak to their employer about booking their vaccine, while GP teams have been asked to contact their clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
The NHS has also urged people who have been given two jab slots to cancel one so the slot can be used by someone else. This might occur if a patient’s GP surgery books an appointment as well as the national booking service.