NHS text drive to invite millions at risk for lifesaving COVID jab

15 March 2021 4:23pm

Issued by NHS England and Improvement

The NHS is texting millions of vulnerable people urging them to get a life-saving COVID jab as the vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, continues to accelerate.

The messages are part of 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.

Now the NHS is texting them with a link that enables 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 which offers additional support when booking their jab.

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.”

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.

Messages will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine’.

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.

Almost 400,000 people aged 55 and 40,000 unpaid carers were among the first to be invited to book by text this week, in a bid to make it quicker and more convenient to get an appointment.

NHS staff visited over 10,000 care homes and also those who are housebound and cannot travel to a vaccination service.

Vaccinations are now being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, with the distribution of centres meaning 99% of the country lives within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.

The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world to be protected against coronavirus outside of a clinical trial when she received the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on December 8.

The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus.