Mass vaccinations begin across the country as lines of people scramble for Covid-19 jab

A mass rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine began today (Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

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Droves of people scrambled to get their coronavirus jabs this morning as the country launched a mass rollout of the much-anticipated vaccine.

A mass inoculation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine began today as hospitals across the country face rising numbers of seriously ill patients.

The vaccines are being delivered to sites all over the UK after the Government committed to offering the vaccine to more than 13 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February.

It comes as NHS trusts in London are on the verge of being overwhelmed, according to leaked health service documents, while other trusts are rapidly turning normal wards into intensive care units (ICUs).

In Brighton, pictures showed large queues this morning as lines of people waited to get access to the new jab, seen as a 'game-changer' in the fight against the disease and offering a return to normality.

NHS staff among those queuing for the vaccine in the bitter cold temperatures in Brighton, East Sussex this morning
(Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

People line up for the vaccine in Brighton
(Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

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Harold Millington, 91, of Chaddesden, Derby, became the first person to be vaccinated at Derby Arena as people came in their droves to get inoculated.

Recent figures showed that there were 30,451 people in UK hospitals with coronavirus, much higher than the April 12 peak of 21,684.

Rupert Pearse, professor of intensive care medicine and a consultant at the Royal London, said his own ICU staff were having to care for far more sick patients as he urged the public to heed the 'stay at home' lockdown message.

Harold Millington, 91, of Chaddesden, Derby, who has become the first person to be vaccinated at Derby Arena
(Image: PA)

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He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme there would usually be one fully-trained ICU nurse to one ICU patient but staff were becoming increasingly stretched.

He said: "Right now we are diluting down to one (ICU) nurse to three (patients) and filling those gaps with untrained staff and in some instances doctors helping nurses deliver their care… and we're even facing diluting that further to one in four.

"As intensive care doctors, we're not sure how we can together deliver the quality of care that we need to."

A healthcare worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease vaccine at the Pentland Medical Practice
(Image: Getty Images)

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Speaking on behalf of the Intensive Care Society, he said the problems were not just in London, but in other hospitals across the UK, and were not limited to ICU wards.

He added: "We are really very concerned now about the seriousness of the situation… which is definitely worse than the first wave and proving much harder to deal with now as the resources we had in the first wave aren't available to us.

"So we're really struggling to provide the quality of patient care that we think patients deserve. And the impact of the pandemic is taking care away from other illnesses such as cancer and heart disease.

John Waplington, 82, of Arnold receives a Covid-19 vaccination at the Richard Herrod Centre in Foxhill Road, Carlton, Nottingham.
(Image: Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

Lucy Airs receives the Oxford/AstraZeneca
(Image: PA)

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"In essence, the healthcare available to all of us is not as good as it should be right now."

Prof Pearse said that unless people take the lockdown seriously the impact on healthcare across the country "could be catastrophic".

According to a Zoom presentation seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ), hospital capacity in London will not be enough for the expected rise in patients in the coming weeks.

NHS England London's region medical director Vin Diwakar set out stark predictions to the medical directors of the capital's hospital trusts on a call, the HSJ reported.

A close-up of a Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine vial containing 10 doses at Pontcae Medical Practice on January 4
(Image: Getty Images)

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The data showed even if the number of Covid patients grows at the lowest rate considered likely, and measures to manage demand and increase capacity, including opening the capital's Nightingale hospital, are successful, the NHS in London will be short of nearly 2,000 general and acute (G&A) and intensive care beds by January 19.

The first community vaccinations against coronavirus with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab are taking place in GP surgeries today and about 1,000 sites are expected to be delivering vaccines by the end of the week.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is said to be easy to administer as it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, unlike the Pfizer jab which requires storage at minus 70C.

Seven mass-vaccination centres will also open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.

The development comes after the UK reported a further 1,041 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday – the highest daily reported total since April 21.

Some 1.3 million people have already received either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, with updated figures expected later today.

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