MORE than 600,000 appointments for a lifesaving Covid jab were booked in just 48 hours after the NHS vaccination programme was opened up to people in their thirties.

Those aged 38 and 39 have been able to arrange a jab through the National Booking Service since Thursday.

Since then, 611,863 first and second dose appointments have been booked at a NHS Vaccination Centre or local pharmacy-led vaccination service Younger people in their thirties are expected to be invited over the next few days and weeks.

The surge in bookings comes as more than two thirds of people aged 50 and over have been fully vaccinated after receiving both doses.

More than three quarters of those aged 40 to 49 have also received their first doses just a fortnight after they were offered a jab by the NHS.

In all, 30 million people have been protected with a first dose in England, two thirds of the total adult population.

One in three people, around 15 million, have had both doses giving them maximum protection from the virus.

The Government and the JCVI announced on Friday that second dose appointments will be brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks for those aged 50 and over who have yet to received theirs.

Nobody needs to contact the NHS.

Those who have their second dose booked in the next ten days, up to and including 24 May, should attend their appointment as planned.

People who should have their second dose brought forward do not need to contact the NHS. The NHS will let them know when they can rebook.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “Six months into the NHS Covid vaccination programme bookings are still surging, with more than 600,000 jabs booked in just 48 hours.

“The success of the programme, the biggest in NHS history and one of the fastest and most precise in the world, is no accident but the result of extensive planning and the sheer hard work of nurses, doctors and countless other staff supported by our brilliant volunteers.

“On the advice of the Government and JCVI people aged 50 and over and the clinically vulnerable are having their second doses brought forward to counter the spread of the Indian variant.

“People should continue to attend their second dose appointments and nobody needs to contact the NHS – we will let those who should bring their appointment forward know, when they are able to do so.

“Getting the vaccine is the single most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against Covid-19, so when you’re called forward, book your appointment and join the tens of millions who have already been jabbed.”

Vaccinations are being administered at more than 1,600 sites across the country, including mosques, museums and rugby grounds, meaning the vast majority of the people live within 10 miles of at least one vaccination service.

People invited through the National Booking Service are offered a choice of appointments at NHS Vaccination Centres or pharmacy-led vaccination services, as well as some GP-led sites.

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.

People 39 and under without an underlying health condition will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with updated JCVI guidance last week.

Pregnant women using the service will also be directed to vaccination centres offering Pfizer and Moderna in their local area in line with JCVI Guidance.