People aged 37 and over can book their Covid vaccine from Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed.
Speaking in the Commons, the minister said that the NHS was continuing the jabs rollout at pace this week.
People aged 37 and over will be invited for a jab from Tuesday, followed by everyone aged 36 and over from Wednesday.
By the end of the week, everyone aged 35 and over should have been invited for a jab, the Department of Health and Social Care has said.
Hancock told MPs that everyone taking up their offer of a vaccine “will help us all get out of this pandemic” and that people in these age groups can expect to receive a text message inviting them to book an appointment.
Referring to new data on how effective vaccines have been, he said: “The data suggests that the vaccine has already saved over 12,000 lives and prevented over 33,000 people from being hospitalised.
“We are protecting people at a very rapid pace. Last week was the biggest week of vaccinations since the end of March. 36 million people have now had a first dose and yesterday we reached the milestone of 20 million people having had their second dose across the UK.
“I am delighted to see the figures released by YouGov today which show that the UK has the highest vaccination enthusiasm in the world – with 90% of people saying that they have had or will have the jab.”
NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said people should not contact the NHS to book an appointment and should wait for instructions.
He said: “Bookings for the fastest and most successful NHS vaccination programme in history continue to surge with more than 930,000 appointments made in a matter of days since opening up to 38 and 39 year olds.
“With well over 30 million first doses of vital protection against coronavirus delivered just six months into the NHS vaccination drive, the NHS is able to open up to 36 and 37 year olds as the programme continues at pace.
“On the advice of the government and JCVI people aged 50 and over and the clinically vulnerable are having their second doses brought forward to counter the spread of the Indian variant.
“Nobody needs to contact the NHS. You will be told how to rebook if you need to.
“Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid-19, so when it is your turn to get your first or second dose please do so.”
Hancock told MPs that, while it was “heartening” that many people had signed up for a jab, some people who had fallen ill with the India variant of Covid had been eligible for a vaccine but did not take it.
The variant has spread in Blackburn, Bolton and Bedford.
He said: “It has been really heartening, I am sure the whole House will agree, to see the videos that have been published over the weekend of people queuing up to get the jab.
“To anyone who feels hesitant, not just in Bolton or Blackburn, but to anyone who feels hesitant about getting the vaccine right across the country, just look at what is happening in Bolton Hospital where the majority of people in hospital with coronavirus were eligible for the jab but have chosen not yet to have the jab and have ended up in hospital – some of them in intensive care.
“Vaccines save lives, they protect you, they protect your loved ones and they will help us all get out of this pandemic.”
Hancock also confirmed surge testing will take place in Bedford after a rise in Indian variant cases of coronavirus.
He told the Commons: “There are now 86 local authorities where there are five or more confirmed cases.
“The next biggest case of concern is Bedford where we are surging testing – and I would urge everybody in Bedford to exercise caution and engage in testing where it is available.”
Informing MPs of the latest scientific assessment on the Indian variant, the health secretary said that the India variant was more transmissible than the Kent variant.
He said the vaccines were still effective, however, adding: “While we also don’t have the complete picture on the impact of the vaccine, the early laboratory data from Oxford University corroborates the evidence from Bolton Hospital and the initial observational data from India that vaccines are effective against this variant.”
He added that while this is “reassuring”, the higher transmission rate “poses a real risk”.