PEOPLE aged 70 and over who have not yet been contacted to get their Covid-19 vaccine are now being urged to contact the NHS to book an appointment.

The new move in the vaccine programme was announced in today's press briefing by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

For the first two months of the vaccine rollout, in which more than 12 million of the most vulnerable people in society and frontline NHS and care workers have been vaccinated against Covid-19, people have had to wait until they get a call from the NHS before they can get their jab.

However, now those aged 70 and over are being urged to get in touch and book a vaccine if they have not yet been contacted for their first dose.

Mr Hancock said: “We are turning a corner in our battle against coronavirus, the vaccine rollout is going well, and if you are aged 70 or over and haven’t been contacted yet please get in touch now.

“And all the time we must be vigilant and do what it takes to tackle any new variants that arise.

"For now, the most important thing that you can do is get the jab when the time comes, stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”

The Government's self-imposed deadline to vaccinate the top four priority groups of February 15 is looming, with the final push to get the most vulnerable protected by that date underway, so the roll out can move onto the next band of the nine groups collated by the JCVI.

Over 70s are urged to visit the NHS website here to book their appointment, or alternatively call 119 or their GP to book an appointment.

Mr Hancock and deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam both urged people to get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect them from Covid-19, after there were concerns the Oxford jab would be less effective against the South African variant.

However, Prof Van-Tam said it is unlikely the South African variant will become dominant in the UK as the Kent variant has a "transmissibility advantage".

Since it was first seen two months ago, only 147 cases of the South African variant have been found in the UK, compared to 20,000 a day of the Kent variant, Mr Hancock added.

During the briefing from Downing Street, Mr Hancock did not budge on the planned roll out of the vaccine when asked by a member of the public if police officers would be prioritised for the jab.

He said that officers over the age of 50 will be included in the nine JCVI priority groups, and once the nine priority groups have been vaccinated then it will look again at who will be prioritised next.