All 16 and 17-year-olds in England will be offered their first Covid jab by August 23, under a new target set by the Health Secretary.
Sajid Javid on Sunday said that offering young people the vaccine by this date will allow those teenagers in that age bracket the two weeks necessary to build maximum immunity before returning to school in September.
People aged 16 and 17 will be able to get vaccinated at one of more than 800 GP-led vaccination sites, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said.
Thousands will be invited, including by text and letter, to book their appointments through GPs or via walk-in centres, it added.
Mr Javid said: “It is brilliant to see tens of thousands of young people have already received their vaccine – thank you for helping to further build our wall of defence against Covid-19 across the country.
“I have asked the NHS in England to ensure they offer a first dose of the vaccine to everyone aged 16 and 17 by next Monday, August 23, this will make sure everybody has the opportunity to get vital protection before returning to college or sixth form.
“Please don’t delay – get your jabs as soon as you can so we can continue to safely live with this virus and enjoy our freedoms by giving yourself, your family and your community the protection they need.”
The latest stage of the vaccine drive comes as the Government said a further 93 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 130,894.
Separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics show there have been 155,000 deaths registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
As of 9am on Saturday, there had been a further 29,520 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK, the Government added.
Experts have warned that high levels of coronavirus infection and rising case rates mean the UK is “running hot” when it comes to managing the spread of the disease.
Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading, on Friday said while vaccines are reducing the number of hospital admissions and deaths, high case numbers “still place an unnecessary burden on the NHS”.
The rate of new cases of the virus is currently rising in all four nations, suggesting the sharp fall in Covid-19 cases that had been under way since mid-July has now come to an end.
Separately, the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) infection survey show levels of coronavirus infection remain high across much of the UK.
Prevalence is highest in Northern Ireland, where about one in 55 people are estimated to have had Covid-19 last week, followed by England, where the number is about one in 75 people.
In Wales, where about one in 220 people are estimated to have had the virus last week while Scotland was the only area to see a fall with about one in 190 people had Covid-19 in the week to August 7, down from one in 120.
The DHSC said that some 100,000 text messages are also being sent to teenagers within three months of turning 18, inviting them to book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
Children aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 or who live with adults who are at increased risk of serious illness from the virus are also being contacted by the NHS and invited for their vaccine by August 23, the DHSC said.
The Prime Minister’s wife Carrie Johnson has said she is “feeling great” after having her second Covid jab – and encouraged other pregnant women to get the vaccine, according to reports.
The BBC reported that the 33-year-old, who married Boris Johnson in May and is mother to one-year-old Wilfred, wrote on Instagram: “Just had my second jab and feeling great!
“I know there are lots of pregnant women who are anxious about getting their Covid vaccine but the evidence is incredibly reassuring.”
The latest data, published on Thursday, showed that 70% of people aged 18 to 29 in England had received a first dose of vaccine up to August 11, suggesting 30% are unjabbed.
By contrast, take-up for first doses among 30-39 year-olds in England now stands at 81.2%, while for 40-49 year-olds it is 89.1%, according to NHS England estimates.
All other age groups are over 90%.