Speaking at the 2021 NHS Confederation conference - held virtually - NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that the NHS would open up the national booking service to all adults aged 18 this week.
The extension of a first vaccine offer to all adults follows a recent increase in COVID-19 cases across the UK, with 7,742 infections reported on 14 June and 7,673 on 15 June.
Sir Simon said that the health service hoped to ‘finish the job’ of vaccinating people over the next month - and insisted that it was ‘bouncing back' after months of COVID-19 disruption.
Across the UK, 41,830,546 people have now been vaccinated with a first dose (79.4%), while 30,204,738 people have had both doses (57.3%).
New analysis by Public Health England shows that two doses of COVID-19 vaccine are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta variant first identified in India. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after both doses.
Sir Simon said: ‘It is now very important that we use the next four weeks to finish the job to the greatest extent possible for the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which has been a historic signature achievement in terms of the effectiveness of delivery by the NHS.
‘[By 19 July] we aim to have offered...two thirds of adults across this country double jabs, and we're making great strides also in extending the offer to all adults.
National booking service
‘I expect that by the end of this week, we'll be able to open up the national booking service to all adults aged 18 and above.’
Sir Simon also announced that the NHS would in ‘the next several months’ be able to offer further COVID-19 treatments that could prevent severe illness, including monoclonal antibody therapy.
‘Through the excellence of the network of NHS services locally, [and] through integrated care systems (ICSs) we're going to need to harness all of that to be able to benefit from [treatments],’ he said.
NHS England has promised £30m for general practice to improve diagnosis and care of long COVID as part of a £100m package to boost care for patients with the condition.
Vaccinations for those aged 23 and 24 opened today after Boris Johnson announced on 14 June that second doses in England would be 'accelerated' for all over-40s.
Current restrictions will also remain in place until 19 July, the prime minister announced, in a bid to 'double jab' as many people as possible after the recent rise in coronavirus cases.