One million jab appointments made in record bookings day

A record million Covid-19 jabs were booked when over-25s became eligible for the vaccine, new figures show.

The NHS in England said that a record-breaking number of vaccine appointments were booked on Tuesday as those aged 25 to 29 in England were able to book an appointment for the first time.

There was a “Glastonbury-style” surge of traffic on the NHS website, officials said.

At the height of action on the “blockbuster” day, 100,000 appointments were being booked every hour.

A number of young people initially reported problems booking, either with long queues or being told they were ineligible to book.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The issues were quickly resolved and NHS England said the National Booking Service had 493,000 appointments reserved by midday on Tuesday, just five hours after over-25s were included.

A total of 1,082,596 first and second dose slots were booked throughout the day – four times the number booked on Monday.

The head of the NHS in England said the figures have dispelled the suggestion younger people may shy away from vaccination.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS in England, said: “Enthusiasm for the biggest and most successful vaccination programme remains strong as bookings for the lifesaving jab reached an all-time high yesterday and the obvious enthusiasm of younger adults to get their jab has blown out of the water the suggestion that people in their 20s might not come forward to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“The Covid-19 vaccine is still the best protection against coronavirus and as further supplies become available to us week by week it’s great that we’ve seen 25 to 29-year-olds sending bookings to blockbuster levels, following hard on the heels of the millions of others.

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“Getting the lifesaving Covid-19 jab is the most important thing you can do, so book your appointment and get that vital protection.

“Remember: when you get the text, you’re next.”

Dr Emily Lawson, lead for the NHS Covid vaccination programme, said: “Hitting one million bookings in a day sends a fantastic signal that getting the Covid-19 vaccine is something that all of us – no matter our age – can value and be excited by and most importantly should get, when our opportunity comes.

“What I hope and expect we will see in the coming weeks is that everyone who is yet to book their jab or be invited will follow the example of the people who seized the moment yesterday, not just by getting their first jab but maximising their protection and making sure they get both doses.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock added: “Our vaccines are keeping us and the ones we love safe from this devastating disease, and it’s clear young people understand just how vital their contribution is in getting us back on track to normality too.

“The excitement and enthusiasm for the vaccine is remarkable and just goes to show how, as a country, we remain united in our dedication to conquer Covid-19 once and for all.

“Let’s keep up this fantastic momentum – if you’re over 25, get your jab booked in and join the millions protected from Covid-19.”

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Ben Davison, from NHS Digital, added: “So far, millions of people have benefited from being able to book their vaccinations quickly, easily and in an accessible way, and this is making a huge difference to the NHS effort to tackle the pandemic – and is saving lives.”

The health service in England has delivered more than 58 million vaccine doses so far in the campaign.

The record bookings will be welcome news as the country continues the so-called race of vaccines against variants.

Officials have said previously that opening up appointments to under 30 marked the “home straight” of the vaccination campaign which only launched six months ago.

Grandmother Margaret Keenan, 91, became the first patient in the world to receive a Covid-19 jab outside a clinical trial when she was given the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Coventry on December 8.