Around one million people aged 21 and 22 are now eligible to book their coronavirus vaccination.
Some 972,000 text messages will be sent out starting today, inviting them to schedule appointments for both doses via the national booking system.
Dr Emily Lawson, lead for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said “the largest ever NHS vaccination campaign is in the home stretch of the first dose roll-out,” and getting the jab is “the most important step you can take to protect yourself, your friends and family so it’s really important everybody in the latest eligible groups books themselves in to get their jab and plays their part in this huge national effort”.
The latest step will mean that only those aged between 18 and 20 have yet to be called up, something that is expected to happen by the end of this week.
More than 60 million doses have been administered and the programme is now entering its final phase – six months after 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to be vaccinated with an approved vaccine.
Only a week ago, the programme opened to all 25 to 29-year-olds and they stepped up in massive numbers, booking more than one million appointments in just one day.
There had been fears that younger people, who face far lower risk of severe illness from COVID-19, might be reluctant to get vaccinated.
But Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said that the response had seen these fears “blown out of the water”.
According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, positive vaccine sentiment among those under 30 increased markedly since the first COVID-19 vaccine was given in December – moving from 63% then to 85% by the end of May.
Such a response should not be a surprise as, in many ways, the effects of the coronavirus lockdowns have hit young people hardest.
ONS figures from March showed that those aged 16 to 24 made up 61% of those who had lost payrolled employment during the coronavirus crisis. Many young people have also had their schooling or university education put on hold for at least part of the pandemic.
On Tuesday, it was reported that 30,209,707 people have had both doses of a coronavirus vaccine (57.4% of the adult population), and 41,831,056 have received a first jab (79.4%).
There are currently efforts to accelerate the pace of second vaccinations, following various studies showing that two doses are far more effective against the delta variant (the variant first reported in India) than just one dose.
How to book your appointment:
• Text invitations, which do not expire, will appear as an alert from “NHSVaccine” and will include a web link to the NHS website, where you can book an appointment
• If you cannot go online, you can call the booking service on 119
• You will get your vaccine at one of the 1,600 vaccination centres, pharmacies, or GP surgeries. The vaccination centres are chosen to be in convenient places such as mosques, museums and sports grounds
• Those aged 39 and under, along with pregnant women, will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines under JCVI guidance