More than one million Covid jabs booked over weekend as rollout opened to all adults in England

·3 min read
A person receives a Covid vaccine at a mass vaccination centre at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (REUTERS)
A person receives a Covid vaccine at a mass vaccination centre at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (REUTERS)

More than one million Covid vaccinations were booked over the weekend after roll-out was opened up to everyone aged 18 and over.

NHS England said a total of 1,008,472 appointments were made through the online booking service on Friday and Sunday.

This works out at more than 21,000 bookings every hour, or six every second – and that figure does not include appointments through local GP-led services or people who turned up at walk-in centres in the hope of getting their first jab. The true number of bookings is likely to be higher.

The surge came after coronavirus vaccination bookings were rolled out to all over-18s in England as the government races to step up the vaccination programme to ensure all adults are offered a dose by 19 July, which is the new target date for the relaxation of all Covid restrictions.

Thousands of people formed long queues at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in London on Sunday, which opened as a pop-up vaccination centre for one day only.

Despite the long line, the wait was only about half an hour and people were in and out of the vaccination booths within 10 seconds, one attendee said.

It follows similar pop-up centres set up at sporting venues in London the day before.

People queue outside a mass vaccination centre at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (REUTERS)
People queue outside a mass vaccination centre at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (REUTERS)

Giant jab clinics were opened at the Olympic Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Tottenham Hotspur FC, Charlton Athletic FC, Selhurst Park and Crystal Palace Athletics Centre for “Super Saturday”.

Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director for London at Public Health England, said the capital was entering a “summer sprint” to get as many people vaccinated as possible by so-called Freedom Day

All adults can now book a jab at one of the 1,600 vaccination centres, pharmacies or GP clinics in England available through the national booking service.

Four in five adults have now received their first vaccination, with three in five having received both, according to NHS England figures.

The news comes as experts warn further lockdowns may be necessary as the UK could be headed for a “pretty miserable” winter.

People queue at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north London (PA)
People queue at an NHS Vaccination Clinic at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium in north London (PA)

Dr Susan Hopkins, director for Covid-19 at Public Health England and member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said there had been “rises and falls” in coronavirus cases across the country, with the virus having been “definitely reversed” in Bolton and “stabilised” in Blackburn with Darwen, but continuing to “rise quite fast” in London and the northeast.

Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, she said: “We may have to do further lockdowns this winter. I can’t predict the future – it really depends on whether the hospitals start to become overwhelmed at some point.”

The scientist appeared to suggest it was unlikely that remaining social-distancing measures would be lifted in England sooner than the earmarked 19 July date.

“My strong opinion is the longer we just take our time and get through this period to get the maximum amount of people vaccinated, then that is a positive thing for this summer and to get us through this winter,” she said.

“So my view would be to keep going. We can live at this level and then, hopefully, when we come out of this level of restrictions, which are much easier to live with I think for many of us, then we would be able to get on and get back to normal and stay back to normal for a very prolonged period.”

When asked about Dr Hopkins’s comments, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland declined to rule out more restrictions, telling Times Radio: “The essence of the virus is you can’t ever say mission accomplished.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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