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10 new mass vaccination centres to open up across UK

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LONDON: Ten
new large-scale
centres, including a rugby ground, racecourse, food court and a cathedral, will
open
up next week
across Britain
to join the seven already delivering vaccines
to immunise against COVID-19, the
UK‘s National Health Service (NHS) said on Sunday.

It comes as a further 324,233 vaccine doses were administered
across the
UK
to take the total above 3.5 million, a milestone hailed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a “fantastic national effort”.

The state-funded health service leading the
UK‘s “biggest”
vaccination programme in history also confirmed more than 1 million people aged 80 or over have been invited
to book a coronavirus jab at a
Vaccination Centre.

There are now 1,000 general practice (GP) led services and more than 250 hospitals offering coronavirus vaccinations, with dozens of
new high street pharmacies stores also jabbing people by the end of next week.

“The NHS
vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history, is off
to a strong start with more than three million people receiving the life-saving jab, including more than a third of those aged 80 or over,” said Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England.

“We are adding more sites as more vaccine supplies become available, so that people can choose a convenient option, with around a million invites sent over the last week for those aged 80 and over. Having worked alongside clinicians at my local hospital I know how tough it is for our staff treating an increasing number of seriously ill people with COVID-19 – so I cannot stress enough how important it is that everyone plays their part by practicing social distancing and following the national guidance,” she said.

The
UK government is also urging the public
to “play their part” in supporting the drive by helping people attend their appointments.

UK 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.

The NHS said that
vaccination
centres offer a convenient option for those who do not want
to wait
to be contacted by GPs or hospitals. People aged 80 or over living
up
to a 45-minute drive from the 17
centres are being written
to with the option of choosing
to arrange a
vaccination there or at a pharmacy site through the
new national booking service. Alternatively, people can choose
to wait
to be contacted in due course by their local GP-led
vaccination service.

The NHS said it sent out 641,000 invitations last week and another 380,000 are landing on doormats this weekend. Another half a million will go out in the coming week.

Appointments are staggered
to allow for social distancing and people who do book one are being asked not
to turn
up early
to avoid creating queues. The
10
new
centres mean there will be at least one in each health region and help
to ensure that people are within reach of a jabbing service, including more rural parts of the country.

Care home residents who are unable
to travel
to vaccine
centres, hospitals or GP-led sites, are being jabbed at their homes.

The NHS highlighted how it made history when Maggie Keenan became the first person in the world
to be protected against coronavirus outside of a clinical trial when she received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at Coventry Hospital on December 8, 2020.

The NHS was also the first health system
to deliver the
new Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was jabbed earlier this month.

The priority groups for receiving the vaccine were set by the government following advice from the Joint Committee on
Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The government has committed itself
to a target of vaccinating all the vulnerable groups in the top JCVI categories by February 15.

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