Dr Nikki Kanani, a GP and deputy lead for the programme in England, said: “My plea to Express readers is ‑ you have not missed your chance and the offer of a first dose is evergreen.” It is estimated that in England around five million eligible over 16s have not stepped forward to have the jab.
Dr Kanani added: “While nine in 10 adults have already taken up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine with thousands more getting vaccinated every day, some people are still yet to come forward and give themselves and their loved ones vital protection from coronavirus.
“The vaccine is safe and effective and we are here to answer any questions you may have.
“So if you still haven’t please do book in for your lifesaving Covid-19 vaccine today.”
Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “We don’t need to know the reasons why patients have delayed so far, and they certainly won’t be criticised or judged for their decisions, we just need them to have their vaccinations.”
Prof Marshall, who has been administering jabs as a GP in East London, appealed for people to get the jab to help ease pressure on the NHS.
He said: “We are not out of the woods yet with the pandemic and cannot afford to be complacent.
“General practice and the NHS have a really tough winter ahead and we’re already concerned about the numbers of unvaccinated patients being admitted to hospital with Covid or other conditions.”
The NHS will target young people who are yet to have their jabs with a drive at universities during Freshers week.
Sites including Liverpool Hope University and Queen Mary in London will open pop-up clinics and walk-in centres to boost uptake among students.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Starting university is one of the most significant moments in the lives of millions of people ‑ and having your jab could be one of the most important things you do to ensure you get the best out of it.”
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said young people had shown “fantastic enthusiasm” for vaccination, with more than 3.4 million aged 18-24 having had their first jab.
Britain’s booster programme is also underway, dishing out third doses to top up protection for the most vulnerable.
In Cheltenham, Norma, 102, was among the first to receive her extra shot on Thursday.
The centenarian, who is the oldest resident at the Astell House care home, said: “I am so pleased to be one of the first to have the booster vaccination. It helps me feel safe.”
Meanwhile, the latest Office for National Statistics infection survey found one in 80 people had Covid-19 in the week to September 11.
It estimated that 697,100 were infected in the community in England, down slightly from the previous week.
Government scientists put the R number at between 0.9 and 1.1, unchanged from the previous fortnight.
Latest figures showed 89.3 percent of people over the age of 16 had received a first dose in the UK, and 81.5 percent a second.
There were 32,651 new Covid-19 cases confirmed yesterday and 178 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
Comment by Amanda Prtichard
The NHS Covid vaccination programme, the biggest and most successful in health service history, has delivered more than 77 million jabs in England and saved more than 112,000 lives.
That extraordinary achievement has been made possible by the tireless efforts of NHS staff and volunteers.
The job, however, is not done.
Thursday marked the start of the next chapter in this remarkable success story.
NHS staff have worked at record speed to put new advice on booster jabs set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in to operating in less than two days.
Catherine Cargill, a maternity support worker at Croydon University Hospital, was one of the first staff members in the country to receive her top-up jab.
As Catherine said, by getting the jab she has reduced the risk of her catching the virus, or becoming seriously ill if she does.
That means she can carry on working to care for patients as well as spending time with family and friends.
In the coming days and weeks, the NHS will be inviting people who have had their second jab at least six months ago to come forward and receive the booster.
You can protect yourself, your family and friends by taking up the offer when you are contacted.
The Covid and flu jabs, which the NHS will also be rolling out soon, do not just provide protection for you and loved ones.
They could help ease pressure on health service staff as we approach the busy winter months.
Of course, if you have not yet had your first Covid jab, or missed the second one, it is not too late to take up the offer.
So, whether it is your first or second shot or you are invited to get your booster please come forward to protect yourself and others.
Amanda Prtichard is NHS Chief Executive