The injections have started
Two million people have had their shots already and the Government is on course to meet its target of giving more than 13 million injections by the middle of next month. Mr Hancock said: “Since the historic day the first vaccine was approved, the NHS has made fantastic strides in offering the vaccine to as many at risk people as possible and at record pace.
“We have worked closely with experts across the NHS, local governments and the armed forces to put in place full and thorough preparations for this rollout – this is the biggest vaccination programme in British history.
“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 UK vaccine delivery plan will be the keystone of our exit out of the pandemic, but we all must continue to play our part by staying at home, following the rules and keeping Hands, Face, Space at the forefront of our minds when out and about.”
Mr Hancock will set out the vaccine delivery plan at a Downing Street press conference today and will also visit one of the hubs.
Who will get the vaccine first?
Letters were today arriving at the homes of 630,000 over-80s who live within 45 minutes of one of the centres.
They are: the Excel Centre, east London; Ashton Gate, Bristol, Epsom racecourse in Surrey; Millennium Point, Birmingham; Robertson House in Stevenage; Etihad Tennis Club in Manchester and the Centre for Life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Mr Hancock said 200,000 people are being inoculated in England daily: “We’ve now vaccinated around one third of the over-80s in this country so we’re making significant progress. This week we’re opening mass vaccination centres…with more to come next week where we will get through very large numbers of people.”
The boost came as government figures revealed 563 people died within 28 days of testing positive for COVID-19 as of yesterday, making the UK total 81,431.
Boots offer vaccination sites that are clean, clinical environments
By 9am yesterday, there had been 54,940 more lab-confirmed cases in the UK, taking the total to 3,072,349.
Mr Hancock said “the pressure on the NHS is very, very bad. The single biggest thing that anybody can do is to follow the stay at home guidance. There are limited exemptions. Only if you can’t work from home and if you need to go out and get shopping or take some exercise. But these are highly limited for a good reason. We need to bring the case rate right down. So it’s on all of us really, it always has been a big team effort,” he added.
The new vaccination centres will be the first to use trained volunteers from St John Ambulance and the NHS Volunteer Responder scheme alongside NHS staff.
Hundreds more GP-led and hospital services are due to open this week along with the first pharmacy-led pilots, taking total sites to around 1,200.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “The NHS can open even more vaccination services and protect even more people this week.
“Please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you. When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments.”
Boots opens its first vaccination site this week, offering the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab to the most vulnerable people.
Seb James, the managing director of Boots, said: “Our vaccination sites are clean, clinical environments in accessible, convenient locations.
“We have extensive experience in vaccination services, having carried out over a million flu vaccinations in this winter flu season alone. We hope to help the NHS and enable more people to get the vaccination quickly.”
Professor Devi Sridhar, chairman of public health at Edinburgh University, said: “We have to continue [the vaccine] roll-out, keep saving lives.
“But it’s not a strategy in and of itself and relying on it alone is highly, highly risky.”