First patients get Covid jabs at mass vaccination centres as roll out ramps up a gear

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.

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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 and 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.

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 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".

It come as Professor Chris Whitty this morning warned that Brits need to follow the rules introduced by the government.

He 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.

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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