‘Blockbuster’ day for vaccine bookings: Young people step forward for COVID-19 jab in record numbers

More than one million people booked a COVID-19 vaccine through the NHS website on Tuesday – a record high.

The landmark came on the day that bookings were opened up to those aged 25 to 29 and appear to have put to rest any suggestions that younger people might be reluctant to be vaccinated.

A total of 1,082,596 first and second dose slots were snapped up during the 24-hour period online and by phone – around 45,000 an hour on average and more than 750 every minute.

This compares to 279,678 doses being booked through the national booking service on Monday 7 June.

The figures include appointments made with the national booking service and the 119 call service but, although some GP practices are on the national booking system, most are booking people separately.

The younger age group is being texted in stages this week with instructions on how to book their jab and the initial surge on Tuesday morning prompted 100,000 bookings an hour between 7am and midday.

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said the eagerness of 25 to 29 year olds had sent bookings to “blockbuster levels”.

He said: “Enthusiasm for the biggest and most successful vaccination programme remains strong as bookings for the lifesaving jab reached an all-time high yesterday.

“And the obvious enthusiasm of younger adults to get their jab has blown out of the water the suggestion that people in their 20s might not come forward to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

On Monday the government revealed a partnership with dating apps, offering vaccine-related features in an effort to encourage younger people to get jabbed.

But there had been growing evidence that take-up among people in this age group might be higher than expected, despite them generally being at lower risk of complications from the virus.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, positive vaccine sentiment among those under 30 is lower than the national average, but it has increased markedly since the first COVID-19 vaccine was given in December.

Between 10 and 13 December last year, the figure for those aged 16 to 29 was put at 63% – but between 19 and 23 May it had shot up to 85%. The national rate for adults of all ages increased from 78% to 95% over the same time period.

Footage of walk-in vaccination clinics around the country, including in Bolton and Twickenham, has shown that, when they have been allowed to get the jab, many young people have stepped forward.

Young people face no shortage of reasons to get vaccinated as, in many ways, the effects of coronavirus lockdowns have hit them 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.

Image: Sir Simon Stevens says the keenness of 25 to 29 year olds sent bookings to ‘blockbuster levels’

Many youngsters had their schooling or university education put on hold for months, and most will have heard experts warn that, although young people aren’t at high risk of complications from the disease, they are certainly capable of spreading the virus to relatives who are.

The NHS has delivered more than 58 million vaccine doses to over 75% of adults in England alone, and more than half of adults have had both doses, meaning they have maximum protection from the virus.

I’m delighted that over a million coronavirus vaccine bookings were made yesterday – a record number.

Thank you to all 25 to 29 year olds – and older – who are coming forward to get the vaccine.

This is our route out.

— Matt Hancock (@MattHancock) June 9, 2021

Some three million text messages are being sent out this week referring people to the national booking service, while GPs will also contact those eligible for the jab, encouraging them to come forward.

For those using the national booking service, appointments can be booked at one of 1,600 vaccination centres, pharmacies or general practice sites.

On Wednesday, the UK reported another 7,540 coronavirus cases in the previous 24-hour period – the highest number since 27 February.