Dr Sean O’Kelly, regional medical director for the East of England said everyone aged 18 and over should use this weekend to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with more than eight walk-in and pop-up centres open this weekend for people to ‘grab a jab’.
Sites hosting walk-ins include The Harpur Suite in Bedford, Saxon Court in Milton Keynes, The Rufus Centre in Flitwick and The Redgrave Centre in Luton.
Anyone over 18 will be able to walk in and get their jab at convenient sites while going about their usual weekend business – without needing to book a time in advance.
The NHS will shortly launch a new online service enabling people to simply enter their postcode and find their nearest walk-in site. Text messages will be sent to people living nearby who haven’t had their first dose yet.
Second doses will also be available, as long as it has been eight weeks since the first dose for people aged 40 and over and 12 weeks for people under 40.
The move comes as the NHS continues the final push to vaccinate everyone, following the watershed moment last Friday when every adult in the country became eligible for the jab.
Dr Ed Sivills, BLMK medical director, said:
“It is just as important to get vaccinated now as it was on day one of the programme, and it has never been easier to walk in and grab your jab while you are out and about this weekend.
“We urge everyone who has not yet had their first dose to find the most convenient walk-in for them this weekend, because the more people who get the life-saving jab, the safer it is for everyone.”
A little more than a week since the system opened to everyone across the country, and BLMK said more than a third of people aged 18-24 have been vaccinated.
Nationally, more than one million appointments were booked in last Friday and Saturday following the move. This is an average of more than 21,000 every hour, or six every second.
People who attend 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.
Nicky Poulain, director of primary care for BLMK CCG, said:
“We are in the final weeks of our world-leading vaccination programme, uptake has been fantastic locally and it’s been a privilege to help keep people safe and to see the smiles on people’s faces once they’ve had their jab.
“With everyone over 18 now eligible and plenty of walk-in sites open this weekend, if you haven’t booked your first dose yet then today should be the day you make that happen and play your part in keeping us all safe.”
Latest figures show the NHS in England has delivered more than 62 million vaccinations just six months after making history when Margaret Keenan received the approved vaccine in Coventry.
Four in five adults have now received their first dose of the jab, with three in five already fully vaccinated after receiving two doses.
A full list of walk-in sites can be found on the BLMK website so people can find the most convenient venue for them.
All adults can book at one of the 1,600 vaccination centre, pharmacy or general practice sites across the country that are available through the national booking service. Vaccination centres are also available in convenient locations such as mosques, museums and football stadiums.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
People who cannot go online can call the service on 119 instead to book their jab.
People aged 39 and under who are eligible and pregnant women will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with updated JCVI guidance.