Every UK adult can have jab from today

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Ruth Langsford says compulsory vaccines are ‘a step too far’

Everyone can book their jab from today as the programme reaches the 18-20 age group. The NHS urged people to get both doses and end the Covid pandemic for good. The Prime Minister said: “Offering all adults a jab less than 200 days after the programme launched is one of our country’s greatest collective achievements, saving over 14,000 lives so far. “I cannot thank NHS staff, the Army, volunteers, manufacturers and all those involved in this extraordinary national effort enough.

“Today sees vaccines accelerate in their race with the virus, so now let’s finish the job.

“If you haven’t yet, come forward and get your jab.”

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More than 80 percent of UK adults – 42.2. million – have now received at least one dose and 58 percent – 30.6 million – a second.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the milestone was “truly a watershed moment”.

Writing in the Daily Express today, Sir Simon said: “We need everyone’s help to finish the job and protect the country.

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“The vital truth is simply this: the more of us who are vaccinated, the safer we all are and the sooner freedom can return.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the rollout had moved at “lightning speeds” to reach four in five of all adults, preventing 42,000 hospital admissions in England alone.

He said: “This is a momentous occasion in our national mission.

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Boris Johnson has praised the vaccine rollout as ‘greatest achievement’ (Image: Getty)

“In our race between the vaccine and the virus we’re approaching the final stretch and we are doing all we can to vaccinate people as quickly as possible with first and second doses. When you get the call, get the jab so we can put this pandemic behind us for good.”

The latest expansion comes 192 days after the first vaccine was given outside of a clinical trial to Maggie Keenan, 91, on December 8. Since then, more than 60 million doses have been dished out in England.

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The NHS is redoubling efforts to ensure as many as possible get both doses in the race to slow the spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India.

Analysis by Public Health England (PHE) shows two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab were 96 percent effective in preventing hospitalisation with the Delta strain. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was 92 percent effective.

The NHS will send text message invitations to 1.5 million people aged 18-20.

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Covid Vaccination Prog-ramme lead Dr Emily Lawson said: “We know that getting both doses is vital to maximising the positive impact of the vaccines.

“If you’re offered the chance to bring forward your second jab, please do so and, most importantly, come forward for both appointments.”

Daily Covid cases jumped to 11,007 yesterday, up 49 percent compared with the previous Thursday and the highest since February 19. A further 19 virus deaths were also reported, up from seven a week earlier. The number of virus patients admitted to hospital rose 43 percent in the week to Sunday.

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PHE’s weekly surveillance report showed case rates rose in all age groups and regions.

They were highest in those aged 20 to 29, at a rate of 195.9 cases per 100,000 population, and lowest in the over 80s at 9.6 per 100,000.

PHE medical director Dr Yvonne Doyle said: “Two doses of either vaccine offers very high levels of protection against hospitalisation from all variants, including Delta.”

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And she urged Euro 2020 fans: “Please, when going to fan zones or celebrating with friends, follow the guidelines in place and enjoy the tournament safely.”

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Covid cases jumped over 11,000 yesterday (Image: Reuters)

Meanwhile, some experts say the Covid rate of increase may be starting to slow.

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The ZOE COVID Study estimated the UK R number stood at 1.2, down from 1.3 last week. Lead scientist Tim Spector of King’s College London, said: “The numbers this week seem to be slowing down.

“Areas with a high number of cases like Scotland and the North-west are starting to level off.

“I’m predicting, based on past experience, that although we may not have reached the peak quite yet, within two weeks we will see cases beginning to drop again.”

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Comment by Sir Simon Stevens

In six short months since the NHS made history when Maggie Keenan became the first person to get vaccinated against Covid, we have delivered 61 million lifesaving jabs in England.

Now 26 million people have got the fullest protection having received both doses.

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That is not just great news for those of us who have had the jab but also for our families, friends and neighbours, because inoculations help cut the silent spread of this virus.

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Simon Stevens says 26 million people have full protection (Image: Getty)

We now want to give the country the maximum protection possible – which is why over the next few weeks we are redoubling efforts to ensure that as many people as possible get first and second jabs.

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Hospitals, GPs and other NHS services have done an extraordinary job responding to the pandemic. So many people have played their part in the biggest national mobilisation since the Second World War.

Nurses, doctors and countless other staff have treated nearly 400,000 Covid patients who needed hospital treatment and millions more besides.

Other key workers kept the country fed, watered and moving, NHS volunteers delivered food and medicines to those forced to shield or leant an ear and a helping hand.

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There were the scientists, researchers and all those who volunteered to take part in trials to find treatments such as dexamethasone – the first therapy in the world for the virus thanks to work done in the NHS.

And, of course, all those who have followed the distancing guidance and sacrificed time with friends and loved ones.

Now we need everyone’s help to finish the job. If you have not been immunised please take the offer. And if you know someone who has not yet done so, please urge them to book a jab. The more of us who are vaccinated, the safer we all are, and the sooner freedom can return.

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• Simon Stevens is the NHS chief executive 

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