Elderly people and healthcare workers have begun to be immunised against COVID-19 at seven new mass vaccination sites across England.

The new centres in Bristol, Surrey (Epsom), London, Newcastle, Manchester, Stevenage and Birmingham will have the capacity to vaccinate four people a minute.

Moira Edwards, 88, was the first to receive a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine at Epsom racecourse and said it was “extremely important” to get it.

The centres will be joined by hundreds more GP sites and a small number of new pharmacy-led centres this week, taking the total number of places offering the coronavirus vaccine to around 1,200, according to NHS England.

But with the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital at a record high and the NHS buckling under the pressure, government ministers are doing all they can to get people to stay at home.

They are considering tightening the national lockdown in England even further, according to reports in The Daily Telegraph, banning people from exercising with people they don’t live with.

The paper claims a government source said the current rules around physical activity are “being used as an excuse for people to go for a coffee in the park with their friends.

Every adult in the UK will be offered a coronavirus vaccination by the autumn, the Health Secretary has said.

Speaking to BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, Matt Hancock said the UK would have more than enough to vaccinate everyone, with 350 million doses on order across various vaccines and candidates.

He said the vaccines would still be offered “according to need”, first of all targeting the elderly and people with underlying health issues.

But Mr Hancock stressed: “Every adult will be offered a vaccine by the autumn.”

He said the Government was “accelerating the rollout” of the vaccine, with more people vaccinated in the last week than in the whole of December.

So far, more than 80,000 people have died from coronavirus, with the total number of cases in the UK now exceeding three million, at 3,017,409.

On target

Covid-19 vaccines being prepared for Health and social care workers at the Life Science Centre International Centre for Life in Newcastle, one of the seven mass vaccination centres, which will open on Monday to the general public as the government continues to ramp up the vaccination programme against Covid-19. PA Photo. Picture date: Saturday January 9, 2021. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Covid-19 vaccines being prepared for Health and social care workers at the Life Science Centre International Centre for Life in Newcastle, one of the seven mass vaccination centres, which will open on Monday to the general public as the government continues to ramp up the vaccination programme against Covid-19 (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA)

Referencing the vaccination rollout, Mr Hancock added: “I really hope that everybody will take that up, and the take up so far has been absolutely fantastic – and the take up of the flu jab this year has been over 80 per cent… which is good news and a good indicator.”