POLITICS
08/02/2021 17:00 GMT | Updated 08/02/2021 17:10 GMT

Covid Vaccine: Over-70s Urged To Call The NHS If They Haven't Had A Jab Yet

People had previously been told to wait to be contacted for an appointment.

People over the age of 70 who have not yet been offered a Covid vaccine should now contact the NHS to arrange a jab, the government has said.

It marks a shift from the original instruction that people should wait to be contacted by the NHS rather than chasing an appointment themselves.

Boris Johnson has pledged that everyone in the top four priority groups will have been “offered” a jab by February 15.

This includes all those over 70, health and social care workers, care home residents, their carers, and people deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable to the virus.

According to official figurers, 12,294,006 people had received their first dose as of Sunday.

Matt Hancock said on Monday the government was “on track” to meet the mid-February target.

He said 91% of the over-80s had had a vaccine dose, 95% of those aged 75 to 79 and almost three quarters of those aged 70 to 74.

But he added: “I now urge everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination to come forward and contact the NHS to book in their jab.

“And if you have grandparents, relatives and friends over 70, please encourage them to book an appointment as soon as possible, so they can be protected against this awful virus.”

The NHS said people should book appointments using the website www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Those unable to get online have been told to call 119. 

Downing Street has also set itself a target of vaccinating all over-50s by May.

It comes amid concerns about an unequal uptake of the vaccine among different groups.

A report from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found white people were twice as likely to have been vaccinated than Black people.

According to The Times, the John Scott vaccination centre in Hackney closed early three times last week due to a reluctance among residents to receive the jab. 

Diane Abbott, the former shadow home secretary, warned the government’s notorious hostile environment policy, designed to reduce immigration, was partly responsible for people from ethnic minorities not wanting to book appointments. 

“The government was warned about the hostile environment, that it would cause problems when you had epidemics – exactly this type of issue where you want whole population compliance,” she told BBC Radio 4′s World at One.

“But because of the hostile environment, some of the population don’t want to go to doctors or their local authority.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday the government would soon be doing “more” to persuade people to have the jab.