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Firefighters in Hampshire are the latest group to join the NHS staff in helping deliver Covid vaccinations as the number of sites providing the life-saving jabs tops 1,500.
Around 60 firefighters and support staff from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service are vaccinating at centres across the region, including Basingstoke fire station, where crews are still answering 999 calls.
It is one of 39 new large-scale NHS vaccination centres to go live this week along with 62 more pharmacy-led sites as the biggest immunisation programme in health service history continues to accelerate.
The expansion follows a major milestone with residents at all eligible care homes having been offered a jab where safe to do so, protecting one of the most at-risk groups in the country.
Selhurst Park in south east London, the home ground of Premier League football club Crystal Palace, the Royal Cornwall Showground and Chelmsford Racecourse, join almost 40 new large-scale vaccination centres opening across England.
There are now almost 90 large vaccination centres and 192 sites run by High Street pharmacies where people aged 70 or over can arrange a jab through the national booking service.
Those who would prefer can wait to be invited to one of more than 1,000 GP-led services or more than 250 hospital hubs.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director said: “The NHS Vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, is off to a strong start with more than nine million jabs delivered across England.
“I’ve seen first-hand what getting vaccinated means to those who are jabbed, their families and loved ones, and as more supply becomes available, we are able to expand the scale of this huge programme.
“These new sites will mean even more people live nearby to a large-scale vaccination centre or community pharmacy, which along with the incredible work of our local GPs, pharmacists and their healthcare teams, will allow us to rapidly vaccinate the most vulnerable in our society.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Services, Steve Apter, said: “We’re used to putting out fires, protecting our local community and saving lives: aiding the NHS in the fight against Covid is one of the most important ways we can continue to do that right now.
“A lot of work has gone into allowing us to help the NHS, and while we vaccinate thousands of members of the public, the Fire Station will remain completely operational.”
Millions of letters have already been sent out to those eligible to get their jabs at the major vaccination sites across the country.
These top four priority cohorts are decided by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which the NHS follows.
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.
If anyone has already received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service, they can simply ignore it.
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 2020.
The NHS was also the first health system to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine when Brian Pinker, 82, was jabbed on January 4 2021.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “I’m delighted the fire and rescue services are joining forces with our frontline health and social care workers in delivering the largest vaccination programme in our country’s history.
“39 new large-scale vaccination centres and an extra 62 pharmacy sites will help us meet our target of offering the most vulnerable, and those who care for them, their first jab by 15 February.”
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “With more and more vaccination sites opening every week, we are making sure millions of people are getting protected against the virus, bringing us closer to getting society back up and running again, and I thank everyone involved with this monumental rollout effort.
“We urge everyone to take up the offer of a jab when you get the call – COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and will save thousands of lives.”
The 39 new vaccination centres are:
- Riverwalk School, Bury
- Alastair Farquhason Centre, Thurrock
- [Angel Centre, Tonbridge]
- Avanti Meadows School, Stortford
- Bedford Heights
- Chelmsford Racecourse
- Clacton Hospital, Clacton-on-sea
- Cliff Pavillion
- Colchester FC, Jobserve Community Stadium, Colchester
- Connaught Hall, Attleborough
- Corn Exchange Theatre, Kings Lynn
- Crawley Hospital
- Horsefair Supermarket, Wisbech
- North Walsham Community Centre, North Walsham
- Oak Tree Centre, Huntingdon
- Priory House, Shefford
- Hexagon Place, Welwyn Garden City
- CP House, Ealing
- Crystal Palace FC, Selhurst Park, London
- Dugdale Centre, Enfield
- Harlequins, The Stoop, Twickenham
- Lewisham Hospital, London
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital, London
- St Thomas Hospital, London
- Elgar House, Hereford
- Kingston Centre, Stafford
- Lincs Showground, Lincoln
- Ludlow Racecourse, Ludlow
- St Peters Church, Worcester
- The Bowling Centre, Shrewsbury
- Jacob’s Well, Bradford
- John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield
- Glaxo Sports Centre, Ulverston
- Westmorland Shopping Centre, Cumbria
- Basingstoke Fire Station, Basingstoke
- Hamble House, St James Hospital, Southsea
- Riverside Centre, Isle of Wight
- Welcome Building, Devonshire Quarter, Eastbourne
- Woodville Halls, Gravesend
- Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge