Health chiefs have launched a fresh plea to more than 60,000 Northampton adults who are yet to take up the offer for their first Covid-19 vaccination.
A phenomenal effort has so far seen offers go out to around 210,000 people in the town and more than a quarter-of-a-million first and second doses delivered.
But there are serious concerns over nearly one-third of over-18s who could get a jab but have not done so, despite rapid rises in both cases and hospitalisations.
NHS England yesterday confirmed the first Covid-related deaths at Northampton General Hospital since April 23 after it was revealed that 26 Covid patients were being treated in hospital wards on Tuesday (July 20) — a rise of ten in just four days.
More 'Grab a Jab' clinics giving jabs with no need to book appointments are being rolled out in a bid to protect more people following the lifting of Covid restrictions on Freedom Day.
Chris Pallot, who has led the vaccine rollout in Northamptonshire since it started in December, said: “Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities against coronavirus.
"Not only does vaccination give us the best possible protection against coronavirus but it’s very much the key to a return back to normal life.
"It's very fair to say that uptake rates for many of the age cohorts have been slightly lower than we would be comfortable with and Northampton — particularly those in the 18-29 and 30-39 ranges.
■ Click HERE for details of all upcoming Grab a Jab vaccine clinics
"We’re determined no one is left behind so I would urge everyone who’s eligible to come forward for their vaccine as soon as they are invited.
"The offer of a vaccine doesn’t expire so if you’ve previously received an invitation for your first dose but haven’t yet booked your appointment, now is the time to do so."
Experts have highlighted how the vaccine has significantly reduced numbers of people suffering serious illness, particularly among the elderly and vulnerable.
Anyone travelling back to the UK from most amber list countries no longer needs to quarantine if they have been double-jabbed and, from August 16, anybody fully-vaccinated will no longer need to self-isolate if they are 'pinged' by NHS Test and Trace.
Boris Johnson also announced on Monday that two jabs will be a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues with large crowds from the end of September.
Government statistics showed 145,134 of Northampton adults, 70.7 percent, had a first vaccine dose by Monday (July 19). Of those, 108,603 are now fully protected with two jabs, that's 53 percent.
Yesterday's NHS bulletin showed 68 previously unreported Covid deaths in England's hospitals, including two at NGH — one on Sunday (July 18) and one on Tuesday.
On July 5, when the Prime Minister confirmed Covid restrictions would be lifted, he added: "We must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid."
Since then the average number of daily cases across Northamptonshire has grown from 142 to 466, there are now 38 Covid patients in NGH and Kettering General Hospital compared to six, and three people have died with the virus in the two hospitals.
Northamptonshire hospitals CEO Deborah Needham added: "This is very different to the previous waves of Covid in terms of age of admissions as it is now in the younger age groups and those who haven't had their vaccine.
"This virus doesn't stop affecting everybody so it's really important you go and have your vaccine."