UNITED KINGDOM: All 16- and 17-year-olds in England are to be offered their first dose of coronavirus vaccine by Monday, 23 August, the Department of Health has announced.
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said the date would allow teenagers two weeks to build up immunity before school or college opens in September.
Invitations are also being sent out in Wales, while walk-in centres are open to older teenagers in Northern Ireland. In Scotland, older teens can register their interests online.
About 100,000 texts are being sent to eligible teenagers inviting them to book their jabs at one of more than 800 GP-led local vaccination sites. NHS England has launched a new online walk-in site finder to help them locate the nearest available centre. Further sites will come online over the coming days and weeks.
Age groups 12-15 who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 or who live with adults at high risk of serious illness from the virus are also advised by the NHS for a first vaccine dose by 23 August, ahead of the new school year.
Javid thanked the “tens of thousands” of young people who had already been vaccinated. “Thank you for helping to further build our wall of defence against Covid-19 across the country,” he said, and urged the unvaccinated to do their part to curb the spread of the virus.
“Please don’t delay – get your jabs as soon as you can so we can continue to safely live with this virus and enjoy our freedoms by giving yourself, your family and your community the protection they need,” he said.
The government along with the NHS is working “to make it as easy as possible to get a vaccine”, including through “grab a jab” pop-up vaccine sites across the country, such as the London-based nightclub Heaven, as well as football stadiums and festivals.
In order to encourage young people to get vaccinated, the government has partnered with dating apps, social media platforms, and companies like Uber, Bolt and Deliveroo.
The National Education Union said the vaccinations of 16- and 17-year-olds would save damage to education in the next academic year, however additional safety measures needed to continue in schools.
The union’s joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said: “With the autumn and winter terms coming up, the issue of crowded schools with no social distancing and inadequate ventilation remains a problem.”