ass vaccination hubs at seven sites across England – including sports venues and London’s ExCel convention centre – will open next week, Downing Street has confirmed.
Hubs will be set up in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage, Number 10 said.
The sites where tens of thousands of Covid-19 jabs will be given a week are:
- The NHS “Nightingale” centre at the ExCel exhibition complex in the capital’s Docklands which will be split so half of it can be used for vaccinations.
- Epsom racecourse in Surrey
- Robertson House in Stevenage
- Centre for Life in Newcastle
- The Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester
- Ashton Gate stadium in Bristol
- Millennium Point in Birmingham
They are all due to open next week, though this may happen on different days.
The centres are expected to be staffed with a combination of NHS staff and volunteers.
Speaking to MPs on Wednesday, Boris Johnson said the country is now in a “sprint” to vaccinate the most vulnerable faster than the virus can reach them.
After the third national lockdown came into force this morning, the Prime Minister stressed in the Commons: “We are in a tough final stretch made only tougher by the new variant, but this country will come together and the miracle of scientific endeavour, much of it right here in the UK, has given us not only the sight of the finish line, but a clear route to get there.
“After the marathon of last year, we are indeed now in a sprint – a race to vaccinate the vulnerable faster than the virus can reach them and every needle in every arm makes a difference.”
He emphasised that people must stay at home under the new restrictions, apart from for certain exemptions such as work, exercise, essential shopping, healthcare or meeting a bubble member, in order to give those administering the vaccine a “head start”.
He told the Commons: “Every needle in every arm makes a difference. As I say, we’re already vaccinating faster than every comparable country and that rate, I hope, will only increase.
“But if we’re going to win this race for our population, we have to give our army of vaccinators the biggest head start we can possibly can.
“And that is why to do that we must once again stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that his party will support the new restrictions and urged people to comply with them but tore into the Government over its failures in dealing with the pandemic which he stressed followed a “pattern”.
He told MPs: “In the first wave of the pandemic the Government was repeatedly too slow to act and we ended 2020 with one of the highest death tolls in Europe and the worst-hit economy of major economies.
“In the early summer, a Government report called ‘Preparing for a challenging winter’ warned of the risk of a second wave, of the virus mutating and of the NHS being overwhelmed. It set out the preparations the Government needed to take, I put that report to the Prime Minister at PMQs in July.
“Throughout the autumn Track and Trace didn’t work. Sage advised a circuit-break in September but the Prime Minister delayed for weeks before acting.
“We had a tiered system that didn’t work and then we had the debacle of the delayed decision to change the rules on mixing at Christmas.
“The most recent advice about the situation we’re now in was given on December 22 but no action was taken for two weeks until Monday of this week. These are the decisions that have led us to the position we’re now in – and the vaccine is now the only way out and we must all support the national effort to get it rolled out as quickly as possible.”