Nearly 13 million people in England live in an area with no vaccination centre, making it a postcode lottery for those seeking the life-saving jab.
Analysis found nearly one in four people live in a constituency with no hospital, GP practice or appropriate community building for giving
At present, only around 300,000 vaccinations a week are being given, but this number needs to be boosted to around two million if life is to return to normal after Easter, experts have said.
On Monday, the first doses of the newly-approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to patients.
Nearly 13 million people in England live in an area with no vaccination centre, making it a postcode lottery for those seeking the life-saving jab
But there are growing fears there are not enough staff or facilities at the NHS’s disposal for the jabs to be delivered.
According to analysis by the
Large towns such as Bedford, Newark and Braintree, which have a combined population of 330,000, do not have any sites ready at all.
In Nottingham, which has around 335,000 people, only the main hospital, the Queen’s Medical Centre, is currently administering vaccines.
Around eight million people are said to face a round trip of more than ten miles to get to a site, meaning elderly people – who are among the most vulnerable – without their own transport could struggle to get to appointments.
For around 1.7million people, the journey to a vaccination centre is 20 miles.
At present, many care home residents, over-80s and NHS stuff who are regularly exposed to covid patients cannot get a jab.
On Saturday, Britain recorded more than 50,000 Covid-19 cases for the fifth day in a row, highlighting the need for a speedy mass vaccination programme.
Analysis found nearly one in four people live in a constituency with no hospital, GP practice or appropriate community building for giving coronavirus vaccines
Another 57,725 had positive test results in the last 24 hours, meaning 2,599,789 have had the disease in the UK since the pandemic began.
The country also saw an additional 445 deaths, taking the total official count to 74,570 – but 90,000 people in total have died with Covid-19 written on their death certificate.
However, despite the current lack of available vaccination sites, hundreds are set to launch this week. NHS England said more than 700 are already in operation.
The New Oxford jab will be will be administered at a small number of hospitals for the first few days for surveillance purposes, before the bulk of supplies are sent to hundreds of GP-led services to be rolled out, according to NHS England.
Hundreds of new vaccination sites – at both hospitals and GP-led services – are due to launch this week, joining the more than 700 already in operation, NHS England added.
Second doses of either vaccine will now take place within 12 weeks rather than the 21 days that was initially planned with the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, following a change in guidance which aims to accelerate immunisation.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘The delivery of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine marks another first for the NHS, and a major milestone in humanity’s battle against coronavirus.’
The Oxford/AstraZeneca jab is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which needs cold storage of around minus 70C.
One of the first hospitals to take delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab on Saturday morning was the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, part of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.
Dr George Findlay, chief medical officer and deputy chief executive at the trust, said the vaccination programme gives NHS staff ‘more confidence’ coming into work.
‘We started vaccinating on our other hospital site a few weeks ago, it’s been seen as a really positive step, something that gives staff more confidence to come to work,’ he said.
‘You only have to look at the statistics over the last 10 months about how many staff have suffered illness, or sadly lost their lives.
For around 1.7million people, the journey to a vaccination centre is 20 miles. Pictured: Assistant Technical Officer Lukasz Najdrowski unpacks doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as they arrive at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex
‘This gives staff the confidence to come to work to be able to look after patients.’
Among the hospitals that will begin delivering the vaccine from Monday are Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Free Hospital London NHS Foundation Trust.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the jab as a ‘a triumph of British science’, adding: ‘From tomorrow, the NHS will start using the Oxford vaccine to give protection against Covid 19.
‘We know there are challenges still ahead of us over the coming weeks and months, but I’m confident this is the year we will defeat coronavirus and start building back better.’
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The vaccine is our way out and this huge achievement brings us a step closer to the normality we’ve all been working hard to reclaim.
‘From tomorrow, the British public will begin to receive a second highly effective vaccine, starting with the most vulnerable and frontline care home and NHS staff, another significant milestone in the expansion of the vaccination programme.
‘This will be a historic day, and cause for celebration, but it’s vital everyone continues to follow the rules and remember hands, face, space, to keep ourselves and others safe.’
New jab policy will save MANY lives: Jonathan Van Tam says waiting 12 weeks rather than original three is the best way to save most vulnerable from dying of Covid as first boxes of Oxford vaccine arrive
By Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Mail on Sunday
Last week, the UK became the first country in the world to authorise the Oxford/
Deploying this second vaccine is another huge achievement for science and public health in the global effort to tackle Covid-19.
The hard work of the researchers and scientists, and the selflessness of volunteers throughout months of rigorous clinical trials, will soon begin to save lives.
The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that at this stage of the pandemic, the priority should be to deliver first vaccine doses to as many people on the Phase 1 priority list in the shortest possible timeframe – and myself and the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers agree with that recommendation.
It means across the UK, the NHS will now prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups, with a second dose due to be administered within 12 weeks of the first.
Last week, the UK became the first country in the world to authorise the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and this week we’ll be the first to start using it to inoculate people against Covid-19 – having already given more than a million people an initial first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, writes deputy chief medical officer JONATHAN VAN-TAM
The flexibility to extend the time period between the two doses was a critical decision, made by the regulator – and one which allows us to save more lives, based on the latest advice from the independent experts of the JCVI.
Their analysis shows the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 89 per cent effective against preventing Covid-19 in the period from 15 to 21 days after the first dose.
Science experts know that if you have protection as high as 89 per cent on Day 21, it is not really possible that this would have declined by much after just 84 days, or 12 weeks. If a vaccine is that good, antibody levels simply don’t drop away that fast.
The evidence clearly shows vaccinated individuals get almost complete protection after the first dose.
Simply put, every time we vaccinate someone a second time, we are not vaccinating someone else for the first time.
It means we are missing an opportunity to greatly reduce the chances of the most vulnerable people getting severely ill from Covid-19.
If a family has two elderly grandparents and there are two vaccines available, it is better to give both 89 per cent protection than to give one 95 per cent protection with two quick doses, and the other grandparent no protection at all.
The virus is unfortunately spreading fast, and this is a race against time. My mum, as well as you or your older loved ones, may be affected by this decision, but it is still the right thing to do for the nation as a whole.
The UK has taken action to secure as many vaccine doses as possible with early access to 357 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccines so far. We have 530,000 quality-checked doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca available in the UK from tomorrow, with more available this month and tens of millions by the end of March.
Deploying this second vaccine is another huge achievement for science and public health in the global effort to tackle Covid-19. Pictured: Assistant Technical Officer Lukasz Najdrowski unpacks doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine as they arrive at the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath, West Sussex
The hard work of the researchers and scientists, and the selflessness of volunteers throughout months of rigorous clinical trials, will soon begin to save lives. Pictured: A vial of doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is checked
The independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that at this stage of the pandemic, the priority should be to deliver first vaccine doses to as many people on the Phase 1 priority list in the shortest possible timeframe – and myself and the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers agree with that recommendation. Pictured: Key workers queue for the vaccine
But we know there is global pressure on the supply of all of these vaccines.
So by prioritising the first dose, we can give more people a high level of protection sooner, without compromising their immunity in the longer term.
This is the way we save the most lives and avoid the most hospital admissions – it is as simple as that.
This is especially vital at the moment, given the high levels of infection we are seeing in the midst of the most difficult time of year for our NHS.
Across the UK, the NHS will now prioritise giving the first dose of the vaccine to those in the most high-risk groups, with a second dose due to be administered within 12 weeks of the first. Pictured: Staff at a vaccination centre in Wickford, Essex
Those working on wards in the last week will know how serious this is, and how it is right we prioritise giving protection to as many people who need it as possible.
I understand this decision may cause some inconvenience and worry for those who had their second doses booked in but I can assure all Mail on Sunday readers that we have not taken it lightly.
We have to do the best we can, with what we have now, to protect the largest number of vulnerable people in the shortest possible time.
The decision we have taken will literally double the number of people who are protected over the next few crucial months.