COVID-19: New mass vaccination centres get thumbs-up on their first day of operation

January 18, 2021

Pensioners who today joined more than four million Britons who have now received their first coronavirus vaccine dose have described the experience as "quite pleasant" and a reason to feel "more positive about the future".

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest milestone in the UK's COVID-19 vaccination effort earlier, bolstered by the opening of a new mass vaccination site near Wembley Stadium in London.

Such centres are designed to help the UK meet its target of offering a dose to the top four priority groups, totalling just under 15 million people, by mid-February.

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Maria Goh, who was the first person to receive the vaccine at the Wembley site, told Sky News her experience was "quite pleasant" and "painless."

The 82-year-old's daughter Irene said: "It's incredible, we're so glad to be here. I'm very happy to get my mother vaccinated, over the moon really!"

Brother and sister in law Pauline Andrews and Norman Long also received their vaccines at Wembley.

Mr Long said: "It's just like a doctor appointment, you've just got to get it done.

"If it gives us the protection then fair enough!"

Mrs Andrews added : "It's been a terrible year, we've been locked in more than once, but I think I am feeling more positive about the future now."

The time had also finally come for grandparents Sarah and Derek Platt, who have been married for 63 years, to visit another new mass vaccination centre at St Helens rugby stadium in Cheshire.

They told Sky News they are most looking forward to hugging their sons, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Jeff Gaskell, 80, also visited the St Helens site and told Sky News he had found the pandemic tiresome.

"You drop into a routine, everyday is the same, one day from the other," he said. "[But] I'd rather be fed up at home than fed up in a hospital bed."

Mr Gaskell's wife Vicky is in her 70s - meaning she is in the next batch of people set to start receiving invitations.

"As long as my wife can get it, she's in the next batch," he said, before admitting he'll be the one sent out to do the errands now.

Mr Gaskell has only had his first dose and will wait around 12 weeks for the second, and a holiday is top of his list of things to do when this is all over.

"I miss going through holiday brochures," he told Sky News. "We like cruising. We were looking to do a cruise about eight to 10 years ago, so I'd love to do that again.

"But even just a three-night break somewhere, or a weekend. I miss doing that."

As Mr Gaskell walked past the bar in the stadium's 1873 Lounge, he called out to the NHS workers and volunteers: "Do we get a drink now?"

When asked what drink would he take, he laughed and said: "This early in the morning? A latte!"

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