TEN new mass Covid vaccination centres are to open in England from Monday, as the government bids to meet its target of offering 15 million people in the UK a dose by 15 February reports the BBC.
Blackburn Cathedral and St Helens Rugby Ground are among the venues chosen to join the seven hubs already in use.
NHS England said the new centres would offer “thousands” of jabs a week.
It comes as a further 324,233 vaccine doses were administered across the UK, taking the total above 3.5 million.
As the latest figures were announced on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted his thanks to “everyone who is helping in this fantastic national effort”.
More people (3.5 million) have now received a Covid vaccination in the UK than have tested positive (3.3 million) for the virus. However, it is believed there have been many more cases than have been recorded, as mass testing was not available during the first peak last spring.
- How effective is a single vaccine dose against Covid-19?
- When will you be eligible for the Covid vaccine?
- How many Covid cases are there in your area?
The government has promised all the over-70s, the extremely clinically vulnerable and frontline health and care workers – about 15 million people – will be offered a jab by mid-February.
In a video call with NHS staff involved in the vaccine rollout, the Duke of Cambridge encouraged members of the public to get the jab.
“I know what a massive difference it’s going to make for everyone,” he said. “My grandparents had the vaccine and I’m really proud of them for doing that.”
And the government urged the public to “play their part” in supporting “the largest vaccination programme in British history”, including helping people attend their appointments.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock asked people to commit to three pledges to “help out”, “join up” and “stay informed” during ongoing efforts to vaccinate, run clinical trials and share accurate health advice.
Where will the new mass vaccination centres be?
- Bournemouth International Centre, Dorset
- Taunton Racecourse, Somerset
- Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire
- Salt Hill Activity Centre, Berkshire
- Norwich Food Court, Norfolk
- The Lodge in Wickford, Essex
- Princess Royal Sports Arena, Lincolnshire
- St Helens Rugby Ground, Merseyside
- The park-and-ride at Askham Bar, York
- Olympic Office Centre in Wembley, north London
The seven hubs already in use are in: Etihad Tennis Centre, Manchester; Epsom Downs Racecourse, Surrey; Robertson House, Stevenage; Centre for Life, Newcastle; Ashton Gate Stadium, Bristol; Millennium Point, Birmingham; ExCel, London.
Writing in the Sunday Express, Mr Hancock said: “We can see the way out of this pandemic. We are nearly on the home straight.”
He added that vaccines were being rolled out to as many vulnerable people as possible, saying “we expect tens of millions of people to be vaccinated by the spring”.
People aged 80 or over, who live up to a 45-minute drive from a centre, are now being offered the choice of arranging a jab at one of the 17 centres, or at a pharmacy site through the national booking service.
Anyone not wanting to travel can wait to be contacted by their GP-led vaccination service or hospital.
Some 641,000 invitations were sent out last week and another 380,000 were due to land on people’s doormats this weekend, NHS England said, with another half a million letters to go out this week.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, around 45% of those aged 80 and over have been vaccinated.
In addition to the mass vaccination hubs, there are around a thousand GP-led surgeries and more than 250 hospitals providing jabs.
DHSC said people could back “the national effort” by committing to the government’s pledges request.
The department said they can “help out” through supporting family and friends attending vaccine appointments or becoming an NHS volunteer responder, and “join up” to Covid-19 treatment clinical trials.
People can also help others “stay informed” by sharing accurate NHS advice and being alert for Covid vaccine scams.