Seven vaccine ‘superhubs’ which could see one person inoculated ‘every 35 seconds’ have opened across England.
Moira Edwards, 88, was pictured becoming the first person to receive a coronavirus jab at Epsom racecourse in Surrey – one of the mass vaccination sites opening on Monday.
Ms Edwards, from Cobham in Surrey, who received her first dose beside her daughter Clare Edwards, said it was ‘extremely important’ to get the vaccine. She added: ‘Having this vaccine makes it a step closer to being with my family again and giving them a big hug.’
Ashton Gate football stadium in Bristol, the Excel Centre where London’s Nightingale hospital is based, Newcastle’s Centre for Life, the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Robertson House in Stevenage and Birmingham’s Millennium Point are the first of the large sites offering jabs to people aged 80 and older, along with health and care staff.
Other images show the layout of the sites and people queueing up to get their jabs.
With the efforts to get millions of Britain vaccinated ramping up, the first patient to receive his Oxford/AstraZeneca jab at Newcastle’s mass vaccination centre at the Centre for Life was 81-year-old Nana Kwabena Edusie.
Originally from Ghana, Mr Edusie has been in the UK for 55 years and lives in the Heaton area of the city.
The centres will be joined later this week by hundreds more GP-led and hospital services along with the first pharmacy-led pilot sites, taking the total of sites to around 1,200.
The Government has set a target of having 15 million people vaccinated by mid-February, with every adult in the UK being ‘offered’ the vaccine by autumn.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that 15 million people will be told a vaccine is ready for them by mid-February.
He told Sky News: ‘The top four categories, actually, for the UK is 15 million people, in England it’s about 12 million people, so we will have offered a vaccination to all of those people.’
Pressed on the difference between being offered a jab and being vaccinated, he said: ‘When you offer a vaccination it doesn’t mean a Royal Mail letter, it means the vaccine and the needle and the jab are ready for you.
‘What you will see us publishing is the total numbers of people being vaccinated, not being offered a vaccine, and that’s the number to hold us to account to.’
Nadhim Zahawi, the minister in charge of vaccine deployment, said vaccinations were ‘the greatest invention known to humankind’ but said they would not be made compulsory.
‘You don’t want to have to go down the route of mandating vaccines because that would be completely wrong, we don’t have those sorts of values in the UK,’ he told Times Radio.
‘We want them to see the value… to themselves and to the community. This is the greatest invention known to humankind.
‘But the moment you say it is mandatory there will be those that say “well, I don’t want to be vaccinated”, hence why we have used the word offered.’
Critics suggest use of the word ‘offered’ rather than ‘given’ actually suggest ministers are not confident of reaching their target, amid concerns about the speed of the rollout.
Last week, the highly-respected Professor Sir John Bell claimed that the NHS has the ‘theoretical capacity’ to immunise ‘everybody’ in five days ‘if they want to’.
The regius professor of medicine at Oxford University told The Times: ‘I don’t get the sense they are really motivated.’
He said: ‘You have to view it as if it were a war. The Israelis are good at getting on a war footing, everyone is waiting for the 2am call anyway.’
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