NHS staff will be delivering life-saving COVID jabs at a network of more than 1,400 vaccinations sites when dozens more open their doors today.
The milestone has been hit just seven weeks after Maggie Keenan, 91, became the first person in the world to be vaccinated against the virus outside of a trial at Coventry hospital.
An Asda supermarket in West Bromwich, an Islamic education centre in Derby and Bolton Wanderers Football Club are among the new sites operating this week.
They are among 1,438 vaccinations sites ranging from GP and pharmacy-led services to hospitals and large-scale Vaccination Centres that are now operating across the country.
NHS staff are also visiting those who cannot go to their local service or travel to a Vaccination Centre.
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for the NHS in England, said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, has got off to a strong start.
“NHS staff have worked hard with businesses, community and faith groups to set up an extensive network of vaccination sites that offer a range of options for people in all areas to receive their injection.
“We want to protect as many people as swiftly as possible and this latest milestone, with more than 1,400 sites up and running, means that we can continue to expand delivery as more vaccine supplies come on stream.”
The vaccination programme began with just 50 hospitals hubs on December 8.
There are now more than 250 hospitals delivering the jabs along with 1,000 GP-led services.
High Street pharmacies are now vaccinating at 117 sites and there are also 47 large-scale Vaccination Centres, capable of jabbing thousands of people each week.
Iconic sites include an IKEA store, the Crick Institute, the London and Sunderland Nightingales, Salisbury and Blackburn Cathedrals and the Black Country Museum, where BBC gangland drama Peaky Blinders is filmed.
NHS staff are also making use of a mosque in Birmingham and a Sikh Gurdwara in Bedford.
Millions of people in the top four priority groups including people aged 70 years old and over and those who are deemed to be clinically extremely vulnerable, are being invited to arrange a vaccination site through the national booking service.
Those who cannot or do not want to travel can wait to be invited to their local GP service or hospital.
The country’s leading doctors and nurses have urged people only to come to a vaccination centre when invited to do so, to help ensure that priority groups are served first and to maintain safe social distancing at every venue.
The NHS made history when Maggie Keenan received the Pfizer vaccine at Coventry Hospital on the 8 December 2020.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was jabbed on 4 January 2021.
Research carried out in the NHS also identified the world’s first treatment for COVID, the steroid Dexamethasone.
Chair of the National Pharmacy Association Andrew Lane, said: “Pharmacies are becoming part of the COVID-19 vaccination infrastructure in more and more parts of England. It is great that many independent pharmacies are rising to the challenge, alongside the national chains, GPs, hospitals and others, in this vital combined effort.
“We are confident that pharmacies will become increasingly core to the success of the vaccination programme as it rolls out. They can reach into communities across the land, to vaccinate, advise and care.”
Faisal Tuddy, Asda Superintendent Pharmacist, said: “We are incredibly proud to be the first supermarket pharmacy to administer the vaccine and to play our part in helping the NHS roll out its vaccination programme. Many of the people who will attend the store today have been shielding at home for months and we hope receiving the vaccine is the first step towards a return to normality for them”.
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