Mass vaccination centres are set to open across England this week – with seven super-hubs set to deliver hundreds of thousands of jabs.
The first 130,000 invitations asking the elderly to sign up for a jab at the centres, which are scheduled to open this week, were due to arrive over the weekend, with more than 500,000 to follow over the next seven days.
The letters have been sent to people aged 80 or older who live between a 30 to 45-minute drive from one of seven new regional centres, with information about how they can book a slot either over the phone or via an online national booking service.
But how do you know if you’re eligible? And which centre should you go to?
Here’s everything you need to know about the mass vaccination centres opening this week.
There will be seven major sites across the country but you shouldn’t just turn up. You will be contacted to book an appointment either by letter or by phone. The first 130,000 letters began arriving on doormats at the weekend with more than 500,000 following this week. They will explain how to book a slot online or by phone. Over-80s who live 30 to 45 minutes drive from one of the sites will be the first invited.
The centres are expected to be run by a combination of NHS staff and volunteers. They will be Covid-secure environments and everybody attending is likely to be asked to wear a face-mask. The venues are all large and spacious so social distancing should not be a problem. And there will be lots of hand-sanitiser on offer, with communal areas cleaned regularly. You will be asked to arrive on time for your slot, not early, and to leave immediately afterwards.
Ideally you will take the vaccine at whichever offers it first. But if you are shielding or have a problem with mobility and can’t travel up to 10 miles away, you can wait until you’re offered one by your GP. Hospital hubs and GP surgeries have already started rolling out jabs, and care homes are beginning to vaccinate staff and residents, who ministers have promised will get their first jab by the end of the months.
Healthy under-50s will be in the second wave of the jab once the first is completed. But it’s not clear when this will happen and unless there’s a huge increase, it seems likely it won’t be before Easter. The order for under-50s to get the jab has not yet been decided although there is pressure to give priority to frontline workers like teachers and the armed forces, not least because ministers want schools to reopen.
No. Lockdown rules apply to everyone and the Government has ruled out ‘immunity passports’ that would apply rules to one group of society and not the other. It’s also vital to note that, while the vaccine stops you getting sick, scientists don’t know yet if it stops you passing coronavirus on to other people. So even though you’re safe, you could be a danger to your friends and family if you break the rules.