Matt Hancock hailed the UK as being “on the road to recovery” as the government announced everyone aged 18 and over will be able to book their COVID vaccine in England from Friday.
Confirming the update in a speech, the health secretary praised the vaccination programme as “an incredible achievement”.
NHS England chief Sir Simon Stevens described the offering of jabs to all adults as “a huge milestone”.
It comes as coronavirus cases are said to be “rising exponentially” across England, with the latest estimates putting the R number at 1.44.
The health secretary also urged all adults to take up the offer of a vaccine.
“All adults across the UK can now come forward and get vaccinated and my message to every adult who hasn’t yet had the jab is come and get the jab, it is really easy and it will help protect you and protect those around you and will help us all on the road to recovery,” Mr Hancock said.
“If you have had one jab, if you haven’t had the second jab, get that second jab because we know they are so important.
“And because of the success of the vaccination rollout, we can be confident that we are on that road to recovery, but it takes everybody to come forward and get the jab.”
Pressed on whether the government will advise 12-18 year-olds to get the jab, the health secretary added: “We will get advice from clinicians on the vaccination of children in the next couple of weeks, we will look at that very carefully.”
And Sir Simon said offering the jab to young people “hopefully gives us our summer back”.
“Today is a huge milestone because everybody in this country aged 18 and above can now book their COVID vaccination,” he said.
“We’ve got 26 million people who are fully protected with both doses which is vital, but for the millions of people in their 20s and 30s who haven’t yet taken up that offer, make this weekend the moment when you come forward and get that protection for you, for your friends.
“It keeps us all safe and hopefully gives us our summer back.”
The number of COVID-19 infections is doubling every 11 days, according to data from the REACT-1 study by scientists at Imperial College London, who said their findings showed a “rapid switch” from the Alpha (Kent) variant to the Delta variant, first detected in India.
The research found the exponential increase in prevalence is being driven by infections among younger people.
And the latest weekly surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE) shows coronavirus case rates in all regions of England are continuing to rise.
PHE said infections among all age groups are going up, with the highest rate among 20 to 29-year-olds, where there were 195.9 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 13 June.
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, has warned COVID-19 “has not thrown its last surprise at us and there will be several more over the next period”.
Speaking at the NHS Confed Conference, he said he is anticipating case rates will continue to go up in the next few weeks due to the Delta variant being “significantly more transmissible” than Alpha.
In Northern Ireland and Wales, the COVID vaccination programme is already open to those aged 18 and over.
In Scotland, over-30s are eligible, but in specific areas of Glasgow affected by the current outbreak all 18 to 39-year-olds are now being invited.