Life-saving coronavirus vaccinations will be delivered from a cinema and a mosque from today as the NHS’s largest immunisation programme continues to accelerate.
A Mosque in Birmingham and the Odeon in Aylesbury are among dozens of new sites that have started to offer the service for those in the highest priority groups.
High Street pharmacies including a Boots and a Superdrug began delivering the jabs last week and another 65 pharmacy sites are joining the programme this week and early next week with more to come.
They include the pop-up Odeon and Village Hotel sites operated by Pharmacy2U, and the Manchester Whalley Range Tennis and Cricket Club, run by Wilbraham Pharmacy, as well as more than 55 independent pharmacy sites, helping to ensure that every part of the country is well served.
Vaccinations are already available from more than 1,000 GP-led services, more than 200 hospitals and a growing network of large-scale NHS Vaccination Centres.
NHS deputy chief pharmaceutical officer Bruce Warner said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in the health service’s history, has got off to a strong start with our hard-working staff delivering more than four million vaccinations.
“After our successful launch in pharmacies last week, scores more sites are now offering the life-saving jab.
“As more vaccine supply comes online, we will be able to open even more helping us to vaccinate vulnerable people even faster.”
Expanding vaccination services into areas not yet covered by a vaccination site, Retrolink Pharmacy and Jardines Pharmacy in Bedfordshire will be coming online to further expand the number of people covered by a local jab site.
Newly opened sites in Nechells in a Birmingham mosque and Lincoln Pharmacy in Tower Hamlets will also play a major role vaccinating groups shown to be at higher risk of mortality from coronavirus.
Nuru Mohammed, Imam at Al Abbas mosque which begun vaccinating today said: “We stepped in with the intention that this will help to inform those people who are not well-informed about the vaccination.
“It will send a very strong positive message to the wider Muslim community, not only here in Birmingham, but in the entire country, because I think this is the first mosque within the country opening its doors for vaccination to take place.
“I think that is a positive message that you know what guys, we are all together in this.”
Health Secretary, Matt Hancock said: “Vaccines are the way out of the pandemic and this historic rollout will cover every corner of the country. Community pharmacists have been phenomenal and will have a pivotal role to play in the continued expansion of the programme.
“Through the UK vaccine delivery plan, over four million people have already received their jab. From hospitals to pharmacies, sports clubs to places of worship – we’re making sure the vaccine is as accessible as possible.
“In the meantime it is vital everyone continues to play their part in this national effort by staying at home to protect the NHS.”
Minister for Vaccine Deployment, Nadim Zahawi said: “It’s fantastic to see the vaccine programme expand so fast. Each week the NHS is making it easier for people to get a jab closer to home, in places at the heart of their community from the local pharmacy to the local Mosque.
“I’m pleased another 65 vaccination sites are opening in high street pharmacies this week specifically in areas where the local community may beat higher risk of COVID-19.”
NHS staff are working around the clock to vaccinate priority groups in line with the guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
That was restricted to those aged 80 along with care home residents and staff but after the strong start the government has opened vaccinations up to all those aged 70 and over and the clinically vulnerable. Those aged 80 or over will continue to be prioritised for appointments.
Those who are eligible are being invited to arrange an appointment at a pharmacy service or Vaccination Centre through the national booking service.
Anyone who cannot or does not want to travel can wait to be vaccinated by their local GP service or hospital.
Nobody needs to contact the NHS, as people will be invited when it is their turn and people cannot get vaccinated by just turning up.
Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are urged not to turn up early to avoid queues.
The NHS 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 vaccine at Coventry Hospital on the 8 December.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, on January 4.
Research carried out in the NHS also identified the world’s first treatment for COVID, the steroid Dexamethasone.