The new NHS chief executive has urged young people to get the Covid jab as figures reveal that those aged 18-34 now make up more than one in five of those admitted to hospital with the virus.
Speaking on her first visit since taking up the post, Amanda Pritchard praised staff for the success of the NHS Covid vaccination programme and urged anyone who has not yet taken up the offer of a jab to get one.
Patients aged 18-34 made up more than 20% of those admitted to hospital last month, up from close to one in 20 - 5.4% - at the peak of the winter wave in January.
More than 250,000 adults aged under 30 have come forward for their first or second dose in the past week, as well as 1,600 people aged 80 and over who took up the ‘evergreen’ offer.
In all, the NHS has vaccinated around nine in 10 adults with almost three-quarters of adults double-jabbed in the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in NHS history.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Thanks to the hard work of NHS staff and volunteers almost nine in 10 adults have had their first Covid-19 vaccination and more than 32 million have now had both jabs as part of the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in health service history.
“There is no doubt that the NHS vaccination programme is having a major impact, keeping around 52,000 people out of hospital and saving an estimated 60,000 lives.
“However, we must not forget that there are more than 5,000 people who are seriously ill in hospital with Covid and more than a fifth of those admitted are young people.
“NHS teams are putting on pop-up clinics and walk-in centres in addition to around 1,600 permanent sites, to make it as easy as possible to protect yourself, your family and your friends so do not delay sorting your jab.
“And as the NHS gears up for a boosters drive this autumn we will be looking to offer other checks wherever possible to make every contact count when it comes to improving people’s health.”
Amanda was speaking as she visited a vaccine clinic run in Reigate, run by Woodhatch GP Federation, where she met staff who have delivered thousands of lifesaving vaccinations over the last eight months.
NHS staff are now preparing to deliver covid booster jabs this autumn to frontline healthcare staff and everyone aged 50 and over, as well as the annual flu vaccine.
Many patients attending GP surgeries or vaccination centres for their jabs will also be offered health checks, such as at the Reigate centre which is trialling blood pressure checks alongside jabs.
Over the weekend, vaccines were offered at sites including Thorpe Park, Goodwood Racecourse, Felixstowe beachfront and the Summer of Love festival in London, with pop-up clinics making it as convenient as possible for people to get protected.
Since Margaret Keenan received the first jab outside of a clinical trial in Coventry last December, more than 70 million doses of the covid vaccine have been administered by the NHS.
From museums and mosques to sports grounds and high street pharmacies, more than 2,000 sites have joined the vaccination drive in a concerted effort to get people jabbed.
At the beginning of July, the NHS wrote to local health teams with guidance on phase three of the vaccination programme, which includes plans for the simultaneous delivery of the covid booster vaccine and flu jab to vulnerable groups.
The letter also asks health teams to consider offering additional health checks, where practical and appropriate, to patients attending healthcare settings for their vaccinations.
Adults are currently being texted to remind them to bring forward their second jab to eight weeks, in line with updated JCVI guidance.
People who attended a walk-in clinic for their first dose will have their vaccination record updated online and will then be able to book in their second dose appointment using the national booking system.
Anybody who cannot go online can call 119 to book instead.