Patients aged 42 and over are now eligible for their first Covid jab, amid a surprise update to the online booking system.
Yesterday, NHS England announced that practices could begin inviting patients aged 44 for their Covid jab, as two-thirds of those aged 45-49 have received their first dose.
It said that a decision on inviting the rest of cohort 10 would be made ‘very shortly’, depending on ‘available supply’.
The national booking system now states that those aged 42 or over or who turn 42 before 1 July 2021 can use the service to receive the Covid jab.
It remains unclear whether general practice-led vaccination sites can also begin inviting these patients for their first dose.
In a statement published on Twitter this morning, health secretary Matt Hancock said the expansion comes as the rollout to those aged 44 has ‘gone very very well’.
He said: ‘I’m very excited to be able to tell you that today we are opening vaccination up to people aged 43 and 42 – which includes me – so I’m really looking forward to getting my text.
‘Yesterday we opened up to people aged 44 – that’s gone very very well, thank you to the hundreds of thousands who have come forward and booked [their] appointment – and now we’re able to go that little bit further.
Uptake is ‘astonishingly high’ and the programme is going ‘incredibly well’, he added.
NHS England last week told GPs that the vaccination programme is expected to be rolled out to the 40-44s this week, but that practices will continue to receive no ‘new’ first-dose deliveries as there is already enough vaccine supply ‘in systems’.
Last week, research found that one dose of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine reduces Covid-19 infection across age groups by 65%.