PEOPLE aged over 80 who are still waiting for their Covid vaccine invitation will be contacted ‘in the next four weeks’, the Health Secretary says.

Matt Hancock moved to reassure people who are still waiting to hear about booking an invitation for the coronavirus jab.

It comes as the Government has confirmed people in the third and fourth priority groups – the over-70s and those who are shielding – will now begin to receive invitations for the jab.

In a message for anyone concerned about not hearing about an invitation, Mr Hancock said: “We will reach you, the NHS will contact you, and you will have your invitation to be vaccinated in the next four weeks.”

Mr Hancock told today’s press briefing that the vaccination programme has ‘accelerated and expanded’ – but in the meantime ‘we must all continue to play our part’ by following lockdown rules.

“Don’t blow it now – we are on the route out,” he added.

“Together I know that we can do it and we have got to stick at it.”

It comes as there are 37,535 new Covid cases confirmed today, while there are 37,475 coronavirus patients in UK hospitals, which is higher than the first peak.

“The NHS is under significant pressure in all parts of the country,” Mr Hancock said.

“Someone is admitted to hospital every 30 seconds and sadly today 599 more deaths were recorded – that’s 599 more people who have died from this terrible disease and left families and loved ones in mourning.

“Our approach is to save as many lives as possible and as quickly as possible, and to reduce pressure on our NHS.”

More than four million people in the first two categories – the over-80s and care home residents –  have now received their first Covid vaccine.

But some areas have been able to vaccinate the top two priority groups quicker than others, and it is in these areas where the over-70s and shielding residents will be contacted first.

Asked why there is a discrepancy between areas where more over-80s have been vaccinated than others, Mr Hancock said: “It does take time to set up each of the sites – you want to make sure firstly it is safe.

“It’s also got to be approved to make sure the vaccine reaches the arm properly.

“But the key thing about the goal we have set is that everybody in the top four groups will be offered a vaccine by then [mid-February].”

Mr Hancock also paid tribute to volunteers who have helped on the project so far, as well as those who have looked out for their neighbours in other ways during the pandemic.

He said: “I find it really heartening the kind actions we are seeing from so many people – especially when someone needs help.

“Being there for each other is so important in these difficult days and, in that spirit, that can help  us all get to the brighter times that I know are ahead.”