A MAJOR milestone has been hit as half a million patients have been vaccinated in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

The vaccination programme launched in December 2020 and since then, people across the area who are in the top six priority groups have been invited forward for their vaccine, with a much higher uptake than what was expected.

It is estimated that in Blackburn with Darwen 96 per cent of over 70's - 14,623 - had accepted their Covid-19 vaccination based on provisional data from NHS England for up to February 21.

Jane Scattergood, COVID-19 Vaccination Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “I’m so proud of NHS staff, volunteers and other partners across Lancashire and South Cumbria who have done an incredible job so far delivering the largest vaccination drive in our history, at the same time as dealing with high levels of COVID-19 hospital patients.

“The response we have seen from local people in doing their bit to attend appointments and come forward to have the vaccine has been brilliant and as such we have vaccinated more than half a million people to date.

“To the small proportion of people who have been invited but not come forward yet, I would urge you to do so as quickly as possible. Vaccines are the best weapon we have in the fight against coronavirus, and local services are going to great lengths to ensure that local people can get this protection in a safe and convenient place.

“And to the wider public, please do continue to play your part. That means unless you are in the groups being invited now, please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you when it is the right time. When we do contact you, please attend your appointment at exactly the time you’re asked to; and whether you have had your vaccine or not, please continue to follow all the guidance in place to control the virus and save lives.

“We continue to be extremely grateful to all our partners including Lancashire County Council, Cumbria County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, our district councils, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, the military, police, local businesses and many more.”

Vaccines are being delivered at hospital hubs, GP-led vaccination centres, Pharmacy-led vaccination centres, mass vaccination sites, care homes and to housebound residents across the area.

The rollout of the vaccine and establishing vaccination sites has involved a wide range of organisations working together.

Wider partners including local councils, the military, the police, local businesses, and many more are supporting the NHS to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the area.

Nationally, 18,691,835 vaccines have now been delivered according to Government data.

Anyone aged 64 and over who has not been vaccinated is now being urged to respond to their recent invite to get their life-saving coronavirus vaccine at one of the more than seven vaccination centres and nine pharmacy-led sites across Lancashire and South Cumbria.

People who have received an invitation letter can book their slot online via the national booking service. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.