More than one million COVID-19 vaccine jabs were booked in two days after the British National Health Service (NHS) opened its vaccination programme to all remaining adults in England.
A total of 1,008,472 appointments were arranged over Friday and Saturday through the booking service, NHS England said – an average of more than 21,000 every hour, or six every second.
The full figure was likely to be higher as it did not include appointments at vaccination services led by general practitioners or people getting the jab at walk-in centres.
The NHS has now administered around 62 million doses since Margaret Keenan became the first member of the public to get a jab on Dec. 8, 2020.
Four in five adults had received their first vaccination, with three in five having both.
Public Health England’s COVID-19 director Dr Susan Hopkins said on Sunday that she hoped all people over 40 could get their vaccine before the full easing of lockdown restrictions planned for July 19.
People over 40 were now being contacted to bring forward their second jab in line with update guidance from experts.
NHS England Chief Executive, Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS COVID vaccination programme continued in full swing as the finishing line came into sight.
“It is fantastic to see so many young people coming forward to play their part, protecting themselves, their friends and their family nearly nine million people in their twenties and thirties have now had their first dose.’’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “it is superb to see the continued enthusiasm young people showing up for vaccines across the country’’.
“It is vital we build on this momentum for second doses so people have the fullest protection possible,’’ he added.
All adults can book a vaccine at one of the 1,600 vaccination centres, pharmacies or GP clinics available through the national booking service.
Hundreds of people formed long queues at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in London on Sunday, which opened as a pop-up vaccination centre for one day only.
In spite of the long line, the wait was only about half an hour and people were in and out of the vaccination booths within 10 seconds, one attendee said.
It follows similar pop-up centres set up at sporting venues in London the day before.
Giant jab clinics were opened at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre for “Super Saturday’’.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had set Monday for the end of all legal Coronavirus restrictions in his road map to ease England’s lockdown, but he delayed this until July 19 because of concerns over the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.
A minor relaxation would take place instead to remove the 30-person cap for weddings, with venues instead asked to limit numbers based on space required to enforce social distancing measures.