Numerous charities have written an open letter to encourage people with health problems to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine.
Cancer Research UK, Mencap and the Terrence Higgins Trust are among the 18 signatories to the letter, which is addressed to people in Vaccine Cohort 6.
The group includes both caregivers and people with a range of underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for coronavirus.
These include chronic respiratory diseases, heart, kidney and liver diseases as well as neurological diseases, immunosuppression, asplenia, diabetes, morbid obesity and severe mental illness.
People with sickle cell disease, lupus, and people with a GP learning disability registry, as well as people with vascular disease or stroke, also belong to group six.
The letter reads: “We are writing today to encourage people with an underlying health condition in Cohort 6 to sign up for a Covid-19 vaccine.
“People with these conditions, including their carers and people with learning disabilities listed on the Register of Learning Disabilities, have been prioritized by the Joint Vaccination and Immunization Committee as they are more likely to become seriously ill from Covid-19.
“The vast majority of you should have been given a vaccination by now, and more than half of you have already received your first dose. Some of you may be waiting for a letter from your GP.
“But the good news is that even if you haven’t received your letter, now you can quickly and easily make an appointment at a vaccination center or community pharmacy using the national booking system or calling 119 in England.”
More than 23.6 million people in the UK have received their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, recent government figures showed.
There have been an additional 5,534 laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, while the UK has recorded 121 deaths in people who tested positive for coronavirus in the past 28 days.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said helping charities was “invaluable” in encouraging more people to sign up for a vaccine.
He said, “Supporting the charities that work every day to support those eligible for a sting under Cohort 6 is a great boost to the vaccine adoption and shows what we can achieve if we can pulling together.
“This open letter is an extremely important way to reassure people with underlying health conditions and their caregivers about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“The charities’ support for this national vaccination effort is invaluable in encouraging more people to come forward and help us save lives.”
Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “We have already given an initial dose of the vaccine to more than half of the patients in Cohort 6 and I am grateful to the charities who are encouraging more people in this group to get involved.
“The vaccine is our way out of this pandemic and provides an opportunity to protect ourselves and others. So it’s important that people get their sting.”
“This open letter is intended to help reassure those who have concerns that the vaccine is safe and that it is supported by more than twenty of our most trusted charities.
“I would like to thank all of you for supporting this life-saving campaign and for offering your expertise and assistance in support of the largest medical effort in British history.”
The letter was signed by ACLT (African Caribbean Leukemia Trust), Anthony Nolan, the British Liver Trust, Cancer Research UK, Carers UK, Diabetes UK, Epilepsy Measures, Kidney Care UK, Kidney Research UK, Lupus UK, Mencap, MS Society . National Kidney Federation, Rethinking Mental Illness, Sickle Cell Society, Stroke Association, Terrence Higgins Trust, and Versus Arthritis.
Meanwhile, the NHS is said to be texting millions of vulnerable people with underlying health conditions asking them to take a vaccine “to make sure no one is left behind.”
The health service will send around two million texts to people with diseases such as diabetes and certain types of cancer over the weekend.
You will receive a link to book an appointment for a sting at a vaccination center or pharmacy across England.