MASS injection centres have opened across England today as the NHS continues to roll out the coronavirus vaccines to the most vulnerable in society.
Seven centres have welcomed people this morning with thousands more set to get their Covid-19 jab with the sites delivering vaccines every 45 seconds.
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It comes as experts have warned people to follow the rules as all four nations continue to struggle with a surge in infection rates.
A third of the over 80s have already been jabbed after the government pledged to vaccinate 14 million vulnerable people by February.
The new sites that have opened today include Ashton Gate in Bristol where Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended this afternoon to show his support.
Mr Johnson this afternoon vowed to open 50 mass vaccination centres across the country by next month in a bid to end lockdown early.
The new sites will sit alongside those opened today, including one at Epsom racecourse in Surrey.
The Excel Centre where London's Nightingale hospital is based has also opened its doors for patients receiving the vaccine.
In the North East, Newcastle's Centre for Life has opened and in the North West the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre has also opened as a repurposed vaccine centre.
Elsewhere Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham's Millennium Point have also opened.
It comes as:
- Lockdown could be made TOUGHER with ban on meeting anyone from other household if people ignore rules, warns minister
- Chris Whitty says coronavirus lockdown can be lifted in ‘months’ but Brits MUST follow the rules
- The truth behind videos of ’empty’ hospitals shared by coronavirus sceptics and anti-lockdown activists
- Bodies kept in temporary morgue in Surrey with hospital mortuaries FULL after surge in Covid deaths
- Pubs set to stay shut for FIVE MONTHS until May as Boris Johnson mulls extending lockdown and only lifting it slowly
Later this week the new centres will be joined by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total to around 1,200.
In Scotland, the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is available in more than 1,000 locations from today.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to visit one of the vaccine sites in England later today.
He is set to lay out a vaccine plan at Downing Street this afternoon.
Commenting on the roll out, he said the NHS had made "fantastic strides".
"From today, the full scale of our plans will be published, so the public can be assured of the time, effort and resources that have gone and will go into ensuring we protect the British people from the scourge of this virus."
The minister in charge of vaccine deployment, Nadhim Zahawi said the plan will continue with "breakneck speed".
He said the vaccine rollout would take place 24 hours a day, but said this would only work when there were enough jabs available.
However he suggested the demographic that are currently receiving jabs wouldn't want them in the middle of the night and at present sites are open from 8am until 8pm.
Speaking to Good Morning Britain, he suggested that the UK would be following Israel's way of vaccinating and the speed in which they have been able to administer the jabs.
He said: "We want to make sure that we get to similar speeds of being able to vaccinate through mass vaccination centres.
“They are doing it (at) about four minutes per patient and that’s the sort of target we want to make sure we deliver on.
“At this stage it’s a race against time. The more vaccine I can get into arms, quicker, the better.”
FIRST IN LINE
The first people to attend the vaccine centres in Bristol this morning have praised the process.
Social care worker Jacqueline Corney, 56, from Portishead, Bristol, was one of the first to be treated at Ashton Gate stadium.
Jacqueline, who had the jab produced at Oxford, said: "It was absolutely brilliant. I feel privileged to be on the list to get it.
"I'm really happy and I think everyone should get it when they're asked. They should go for it, definitely."
She added that people needed to pay more attention to the rules and said she didn't feel as though people were taking lockdown seriously.
She said: "We only have a little while longer to go with this. We've only got to follow the rules for a short time. Then we'll get the vaccinations and go back to normal hopefully.
"I do get a second vaccine in a few months back here I think.
"The first dose will cover me going by the science. I'm all for it. I think it's brilliant. It was very efficient. I'm looking forward to be able to go and see my mum, who is in her 80s and not worry. And my grandson, who is eight".
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the jab plan was to "vaccinate as many people as possible across the entire United Kingdom as quickly as we can."
He added: "There are deeply challenging weeks ahead, but today signals another significant step forward in the race to protect the public, and defeat the virus.”
The centres will be some of the largest in the UK and it is a requirement that any centre delivering vaccines has to administer 1,000 weekly doses.
It come as Professor Chris Whitty this morning warned that Brits need to follow the rules introduced by the government to curb the spread of the virus.
At present the country is in nationl lockdown, schools are closed and all non-essential shops are also closed – as well as gyms.
Prof Whitty said restrictions would be lifted "in months" but that Brits needed to adhere to the rules.
He said it will take "rather a long period" to vaccinate enough Brits to reduce the risk for the whole of society, although stressed it'll be "months not years".
"That won't happen in one go, but at a certain point, we will get back to life basically exactly the same as it was before," he said.
"However, it's quite long way away at the moment."
His comments come as government data revealed that over the weekend, lab confirmed cases of the virus reached over three million.
The official death toll has now passed over 81,000 and Prof Whitty said the NHS faces the "most dangerous situation" in living memory.
The Sun has urged people to come forward and volunteer as part of the Jabs Army Campaign and so far 28,000 people have signed up to volunteer at Covid vaccination centres.
So far, 1.5million Brits have been vaccinated as part of ambitious plans to give out 200,000 doses a day by next week.
The aim is to ultimately get 15million jabs into arms by March – which is a huge logistical mission.
That's why Britain's biggest businesses including BT, Morrisons, British Airways, PaddyPower, Sky TV and others have all backed our campaign.
The firms called on their collective 500,000 workers to sign up as volunteers to help the NHS achieve its historic victory over the pandemic.
Hundreds of thousands of over 80s were urged to book a Covid vaccine this week as further sites open across the UK.
Over the weekend, the NHS says it sent out over 130,000 letters with over 500,000 set to arrive on doormats later this week.
The letters have been sent to people who are aged 80 and over who live 30 to 45 minutes drive from one of the seven new sites.
The letters explain how the slots can be booked through the national booking service online or over the phone.
The NHS said that the centres are an additional option for people, who can book an appointment at one of the seven centres through the national booking service online or over the phone.
If they can't make an appointment this way then they can be jabbed at one of their local vaccine centres.
Professor Stephen Powis, the NHS’s national medical director said that increasing supplies means the NHS can open even more vaccination services and protect even more people this week.
He said: “While my NHS colleagues are working hard to ensure we can offer vaccines to all of those who would benefit most over the next month, at the same time as providing care for everyone who needs it, we need the public to help us.
What to expect at the vaccine centres
Seven vaccine centres have opened this morning, but what’s the process once you arrive?
People who have booked to have a vaccine will arrive at one of seven centres that have opened this morning.
On arrival you will be greeted by volunteers who will marshal carparks and register people when they arrive.
Next, patients will receive a health status check – as well as a pre-vaccination assessment.
The jab will then be administered by a trained professional.
After the jab has been given patients will be observed for 15 minutes.
The NHS says that the process should take under an hour.
“Please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you. When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments.
"And whether you have had a vaccine or not, please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives – that means staying at home as much as you can, and following the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance when you can’t.”
While the vaccine programme continues to be boosted, testing is also set to be given an extra push across the country.
Asymptomatic people who cannot work from home are set to be prioritised for quick turnaround tests made available to every local authority as part of the community testing programme.
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