Health

Pfizer Covid vaccine given to 138,000 people in first week of roll-out, says minister


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lmost 138,000 Britons have received the first dose of the Covid vaccine, it was revealed today.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said 137,897 people had been given the Pfizer/BioNTech jab since last Tuesday in what he described as a “really good start to the vaccination programme’’.

The figures, covering the first seven days of the roll-out, include 108,000 people in England, 7,897 in Wales, 4,000 in Northern Ireland and 18,000 in Scotland. 

It came as hospitals and GPs appealed to Londoners not to inundate them with calls asking when they can have the vaccine. GPs are setting up more vaccine centres this week and are prioritising people in order of risk, with over-eighties, care home staff and NHS frontline staff at the front of the queue.  

London North West Healthcare, which runs Northwick Park and Ealing hospitals, posted a request for patients to wait to be contacted by their GP.  

“Please do not call us with requests for information about COVID-19 vaccines,” it said. “The national roll-out is run by the Government with NHS England, so you will be contacted to book an appointment in the months ahead.  

“Please don’t contact your doctor or the NHS asking about vaccination; this is not a service that you are able to book in advance.” 

It comes after 91-year-old Martin Kenyon achieved international TV fame when he became one of the first people in the UK to get the jab last week. He had phoned Guy’s hospital in the morning and secured an appointment that afternoon.  

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Five GP-run sites in north-west London began offering vaccinations yesterday afternoon, with 20 planned in total. These will be boosted by the opening of large vaccination centres in January.  

One of the sites was at Barnet FC’s ground The Hive in Harrow. GPs spent the week phoning 1,000 people to offer appointments and plan to vaccinate 325 people a day at the site. 

Adam Mackintosh, chief executive of Harrow Health, said: “This will be like a cycle now. They will keep coming and we will keep booking.”

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An Elderly patient receives the covid jab at The Hive at Barnet FC

/ Harrow Health )

Paperwork was completed in advance of each patient’s arrival to save time, and the 15-minute observation period was used to book their follow-up jab. “It’s like a conveyor belt,” Mr Mackintosh said.

“I think it will go on for a number of months rather than weeks, if you think about our entire population coverage.”

A second batch of 975 doses is due at the centre tomorrow. 

Harrow Health chairman Dr Kanesh Rajani said: “As the supplies come through, we will ramp it up. The vast majority of people that we have rung want the vaccine. The uptake has been very good.”

Elsewhere in London, Queen’s hospital in Romford yesterday began inoculating NHS workers and care home staff. The vaccine is being distributed from seven hospitals in London and about a dozen GP-run centres.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said he hopes several million people can be vaccinated before Christmas.



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