A mosque in Birmingham today started dishing out coronavirus vaccinations amid fears the uptake is too low in BAME groups.
Another 60 pharmacy-led sites — including a cinema — also opened their doors to turbo-charge the rollout, as ministers race to meet their deadline of inoculating the 14million most vulnerable people by mid-February.
The expansion also came as Britain’s first 24/7 vaccination hubs inside hospitals in Birmingham and Nottinghamshire began offering jabs as part of a pilot scheme.
It comes after a survey found that 72 per cent of black Britons were ‘unlikely or very unlikely’ to get a coronavirus jabs — compared to 82 per cent of all Brits saying they would attend appointments for the vaccine.
Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Eastern European groups also claimed they less willing to take the Covid jab.
The Government’s top scientists blamed the disparity on ‘structural and institutional racism and discrimination’.
The expansion comes amid uncertainty over the speed of Britain’s vaccine rollout, with ministers blaming ‘supply constraints’ for a three-day blip that raised fears the NHS drive had stalled.
But official data figures yesterday sparked hopes the operation was still on track, as more than 346,000 jabs were dished out on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson insisted the UK was still on schedule to inoculate 14million vulnerable people by mid-February.
A mosque in Birmingham has today begun offering coronavirus vaccinations, amid fears take up is too low among BAME groups
A cinema in Aylesbury has also started handing out jabs to the most vulnerable, as Britain races to meet its target of 14million first doses by mid-February
Pharmacists pictured at the Al Abbas mosque in Birmingham, which is being used as a vaccination hub to turbo charge the rollout
Sheila Evans receives an infection of the coronavirus vaccine at the mosque today
Clive Evans is also pictured receiving his first dose of the vaccine at the mosque
Members of the public sit on socially distanced chairs in the waiting area before getting their jabs. The Government is aiming to vaccinate all the most vulnerable groups by mid-February
The paper presented by SAGE included the results of a survey which showed a shocking 71.8 per cent of Black people said they were unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine if offered one
GOVERNMENT ONLY NEEDS TO OFFER 13.9MILLION PEOPLE THE VACCINE TO HIT ITS TARGET BY MID-FEBRUARY
Ministers are facing questions over the vaccination target today as they could claim success with far fewer than 13.9million people given jabs.
Boris Johnson has set the target of inoculating the four highest priority groups by February 15, warning that it will be ‘very hard’.
But although the PM and other ministers have suggested it will mean administering 13.9million doses, in fact that is how many people will be ‘offered’ jabs.
Government sources admit not everyone will take up the invitation, with polls indicating that a fifth of the population might refuse.
It raises the prospect that the target could be technically hit well before 13.9million doses have been administered – although it is still possible that number of jabs will be achieved by mid-February.
However, MPs warned that ‘under-delivering’ and then claiming to have achieved the goal ‘won’t wash’.
The vaccine rollout appeared to get back on track yesterday after an alarming slowdown, with figures showing 346,000 jabs were given in the past 24 hours.
Mr Johnson insisted the target was still on schedule, but warned ‘constraints on supply’ were making the situation harder.
Matt Hancock said today that five million doses have now been given.
In order to administer 13.9million first doses by February 15, the Government must average more than 350,000 doses a day from now on.
But that the goal could be achieved with more like 300,000 jabs a if takeup is 75-80 per cent.
Government insiders told MailOnline the vaccinations are not mandatory and ‘no-one expects to get 100 per cent in every category’.
‘Some people will refuse to have a jab,’ they said. ‘We are trying all the time to encourage people to take up the offer.’
In order to meet the lockdown-easing target, the Government must average more than 350,000 doses a day from now until February 15, with the previous bullish tone from officials getting toned down in recent days.
Pfizer’s supplies have been dented by a factory upgrade which will continue into next month. Sources say other factors include the ‘intermittent’ deliveries of supplies and difficulties contacting the remaining over-80s and covering care homes.
MPs have also voiced frustration at the way supplies have been divvied out. In London — which has dished out the fewest jabs — the allocation is believed to have been based on take-up of last season’s flu vaccine, which was relatively low.
Announcing the inclusion of the Al Abbas mosque in Birmingham in the roll out today, Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons they were ‘opening new sites all the time’.
‘Today, a cinema in Aylesbury, a mosque in Birmingham and a cricket club in Manchester have all come on board as part of 65 pharmacy-led sites across England that are joining our vaccination programme this week,’ he said.
‘This ongoing expansion will help us to protect even more of the most vulnerable even more quickly.’
He added that from NHS England would also publish vaccination figures by local areas today.
The numbers are expected to reveal Britain’s vaccines ‘postcode lottery’, with some areas having 100 per cent of all their over-80s vaccinated while others —such as Sandwich in Kent — are lagging behind.
Leyla Hannbeck, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said today that rolling out the vaccine to pharmacies could help ensure it is also taken up by BAME communities.
‘When it comes to the BAME community we have pharmacists across all communities that can help manage the vaccination to ensure that the whole population receives it because we are all in it together,’ she said.
The scheme’s expansion comes barely a week after six pharmacies — including ones run by Boots and Superdrug — were called up to assist the programme.
Chemists slammed ministers for initially failing to include them in the rollout, saying they were an ‘invisible army’ of ready-to-go vaccinators.
The approval of the Oxford vaccine — which can be stored in a household fridge like the flu vaccine — meant they could dish out ‘thousands of jabs a day’ to ramp up the national effort, they said.
Ms Hannbeck today called on the Government to keep mobilising pharmacies to help deliver the jabs.
‘We have got a network of 11,000 pharmacies across England alone,’ she said.
‘The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine could be done similarly to the flu vaccination because it can also be stored in pharmacy fridges.’
‘We jabbed a record number of patients with the flu vaccine this year,’ she said, adding that they were ready to do the same with the coronavirus vaccine.
Malcolm Harrison, the chief executive of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), welcomed the opening of more pharmacy-led sites today including two of its members, and called on the NHS not to delay using more of them.
‘We welcome the addition of new community pharmacy sites to the Covid vaccine programme,’ he said.
‘However, the sites that are involved so far are the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of how the community pharmacy network in England could be mobilised to protect their local communities against Covid.
‘We are urging the NHS to fully use the existing network of community pharmacies as part of the vaccine programme.’
A man pictured at the mosque where they are rolling out coronavirus vaccines
Members of the public pictured in the waiting area before receiving their doses of the coronavirus vaccine at the mosque