A fifth of Covid patients currently in hospital are aged between 18 and 34, the head of the NHS revealed today.
Amanda Pritchard, who took over as chief executive of the health service last week, urged young people to get a vaccine.
In her first major interview since taking the role, she said there is ‘no doubt’ the roll-out is keeping people out of hospital and saving lives.
Some 20 per cent of the 5,000 patients currently in hospital with the virus are young people, according to NHS data. This is up from 5.4 per cent — around one in 20 — at the peak of the second wave in January.
It does not mean the virus now poses a bigger threat to youngsters. Instead, it shows how the current crop of vaccines have prevented tens of thousands of older adults from being hospitalised.
Just 64.1 per cent of 30 to 34-year-olds have had a jab so far, and uptake falls to just 60.8 per cent for people in their mid to late 20s. For comparison, more than 90 per cent of over-60s have been jabbed.
Ministers have already roped in Uber and Deliveroo to offer deals for young people in a bid to encourage them to come forward.
It comes as Government data shows the number of patients being hospitalised with Covid is continuing to fall, in a sign that the worst part of the summer wave may be over.
However, experts are concerned cases may creep up again this week, which could see the NHS come under more pressure towards the end of the month. It can take several weeks for infected patients to become severely ill.
New NHS boss Amanda Pritchard today urged young people to get the jab, as she revealed a fifth of all people going to hospital in England with Covid are adults under 34-years-old. (Pictured: Ms Pritchard during a visit to University College Hospital London last Wednesday)
Now all over-12s could be jabbed: Healthy younger children are likely to be offered Covid jabs, say scientific advisers
Healthy children as young as 12 are likely to be offered Covid jabs, scientific advisers said last night.
Vaccine officials yesterday confirmed that doses will be offered within weeks to all 16 and 17-year-olds – and they will not need parental consent.
But Jonathan Van-Tam, the deputy chief medical officer, strongly hinted the programme could be extended to those aged 12 to 15.
In a clear sign this could happen this year, he stressed the need to ‘continually review the emerging data’.
Children over 12 are eligible for the jab only if they have severe underlying health conditions or live with a vulnerable relative.
But Professor Van-Tam said it was ‘more likely, rather than less likely’ that the list of eligible 12 to 15-year-olds would grow.
At a Downing Street briefing, he said there was ‘no time to waste’ in starting the rollout to 1.5million 16 and 17-year-olds.
‘Children are going to start going back to colleges and sixth-forms from September, and in Scotland that will be slightly earlier, so there is no time to waste in getting on with this,’ he said.
Ms Pritchard told the BBC about 1,000 young adults are currently ‘really unwell’ in hospital, adding that the number of them being admitted to hospital is four times higher than the peak last winter.
Speaking yesterday at a vaccine clinic in Reigate, Ms Pritchard said: ‘There is no doubt that the NHS vaccination programme is having a major impact, keeping around 52,000 people out of hospital and saving an estimated 60,000 lives.
‘However, we must not forget that there are more than 5,000 people who are seriously ill in hospital with Covid and more than a fifth of those admitted are young people.’
She urged people to ‘not delay sorting your jab’, saying the NHS is making it ‘as easy as possible to protect yourself, your family and your friends’, with pop-up clinics and walk-in sites bolstering the 1,600 permanent sites already in place.
Latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows admissions among 15 to 24-year-olds in England are higher now than they were in the January peak.
This is also partly down to young people fuelling the third wave, with surveillance studies suggesting up to a third of teens were carrying the virus during July.
But overall, the numbers going to hospital with Covid look promising.
Official figures show hospitalisations fell by 19.1 per cent to 668 on Saturday — the latest date numbers are available for — compared to the 826 people admitted one week earlier.
Meanwhile, infections continued to drop but appear to be flattening out at around 30,000 new cases every day.
It comes as Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday accepted advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to expand the vaccine roll out to those aged 16 and 17.
Scientists concluded that the benefits of jabbing this age group – such as protecting them from catching the virus and passing it on – outweighed risks.
Other countries, including the US and France, are already jabbing children over 12.
But scientists in the UK wanted to wait for more data regarding the prevalence of an extremely rare side effect of heart inflammation called myocarditis, which they concluded was ‘extremely rare’.
Along with jabbing the newly eligible group, NHS staff are also preparing to dish out Covid booster injections at the same time as flu jabs this autumn for all over-50s and healthcare workers.
Health chiefs hope this will increase their protection against the virus ahead of a potential surge in cases later in the year.
Ms Pritchard said people who come forward for the jabs will also be offered health checks ‘wherever possible’, including blood pressure checks, to ‘make every contact count when it comes to improving people’s health’.
Official figures show hospitalisations fell by 19.1 per cent to 668 on Saturday – the latest date numbers are available for – compared to the 826 people admitted one week earlier
Latest data from the Office for National Statistics shows admissions among 15 to 24-year-olds in England were higher by July 25 than they were in the January peak. Covid hospitalisations were rising in all age groups apart from those aged five to 14