NHS England boss hails ‘remarkable achievement’ as vaccination programme begins

The launch of the national coronavirus vaccination programme is showing the NHS at its best, a senior leader has said.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said it was a remarkable achievement that vaccinations were now being rolled out less than a year after the first case of coronavirus.

Sir Simon was speaking during a visit to the vaccination centre at Guy’s Hospital in London on Tuesday where he met staff and patients receiving their jabs.

He said: “It is less than a year since the first coronavirus case was diagnosed and yet here we are today beginning vaccinations across the NHS, so that’s a remarkable achievement not just on the part of the scientists, the researchers, and the regulators, but today of pharmacists, nurses and doctors.

“In many ways this is the NHS at its best, getting new vaccinations to vulnerable patients who need them for free.”

But while Sir Simon described the start of the vaccination programme as a “turning point”, he said that people still needed to act sensibly to stop the virus from spreading.

He added: “Today is a hugely important step, but it’s a first step.

“Ultimately millions of patients will be offered this vaccination.

“Between now and then it’s just incredibly important we continue to take care and act sensibly to control coronavirus before we are able to access vaccinations.”

Sir Simon also said that keeping the virus under control was the best way to make sure the health service can provide a full range of services over winter.

He added: “The single biggest way of making sure the NHS can provide a full range of services is to continue to act sensibly so that we keep coronavirus under control.

“We all know what it takes to do that and if we do then we will see routine operations, the wider range of services, continuing to fire in all cylinders.”

He also said that the NHS will contact people to come forward for vaccinations.

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