Contact the NHS if you are yet to have coronavirus jab, over 70s are told
Until now, those in the highest risk groups were told to wait until the NHS contacted them offering an appointment for the jab.
But in an attempt to ensure no one falls through the gaps before the deadline of when the top four priority groups must be reached - February 15 - the Health Secretary said all those over 70 were now urged to contact the NHS themselves if they had not yet been offered the injection.
Speaking from Downing Street this evening, Mr Hancock said: “The fewer people who are left unvaccinated, the safer we’ll all be and the more securely we’ll be able to release restrictions, when the time is right.”
He said the country was “turning a corner in our battle against coronavirus”, as he revealed 93 per cent of those in care homes had been vaccinated, as well as 91 per cent among over 80s.
And he said: “We will use our vaccination programme to go on the offensive against this virus.”
NHS England Medical Director for Primary Care and a practising GP for Dr Nikki Kanani pointed to teams in Skipton, North Yorkshire, who had been delivering jabs in people’s homes.
“GP surgeries have created entire teams and over the weekend visited over 300 people in their own houses,” she said.
“So wherever you are, however you need the vaccines, if you’re in the priority cohort you will be offered it.”
And she said even if an offer had already been extended but not taken up, those eligible were encouraged to contact the NHS either through online booking via nhs.uk or by calling 119.
She said: “Our teams made up of GPs, nurses, pharmacists from all around the country are waiting to vaccinate you if you still need your vaccination this week.”
It comes as Mr Hancock revealed regular testing will now be available in the workplace to employers in sectors which remain open, if they have more than 50 workers.
He added: “It’s very important we keep our defences up as well.”
Some 333 further deaths were reported across the UK today in people who tested positive for coronavirus within 28 days, bringing the country’s total to 112,798.
Mr Hancock added: “The number of people in hospital is still far too high but it is falling, the number of people who are dying from this disease is also far too high but that is falling too.”
England’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, played down concern over a new variant of the disease from South Africa. He said: “There is no reason to think the South African variant will catch up or overtake our current virus in the next few months.”
He added: “That being the case, our immediate threat is from our current virus, and there is now plenty of evidence that the vaccines that we are deploying are effective against our current virus.”
He said it may be the case that in the future people can be revaccinated as jabs are tailored for new variants.
But he said it was "not a big surprise” that the virus had mutated.
Last week Baroness Harding, head of NHS Test and Trace, told MPs the virus mutating and new variants emerging “was something that none of us were able to predict”.
But Prof Van-Tam said today: “Just as variations to the virus were inevitable it’s almost inevitable that at some point we will need variations to the vaccine. This is not a big fright, it is not a big surprise,"