Blackburn Cathedral becomes mass vaccination centre

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionPeople aged over 80 living with 45 minutes drive of the cathedral have been invited for jabs

Blackburn Cathedral has become of the latest Covid-19 mass vaccination hubs to open in England.

John Mason, 82, from Bolton, became the first to have a jab at the site and will be followed by an estimated 8,000 people in the first week.

The octogenarian took it in his stride, describing the process as "easy-peasy. Nothing to worry about".

The cathedral is one of 10 national hubs, which include St Helens rugby ground and Taunton racecourse.

Thousands of people aged over 80 within 45 minutes' drive from the site are being invited to attend appointments, echoing the days when people flocked to monasteries for medical treatment and cathedrals housed the first medical schools.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionJohn Mason, 82, receiving a Covid-19 vaccination from nurse Anie Santillan

The hub will be open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

People who book in are greeted by volunteers who marshal car parks and register them when they arrive.

Blackburn with Darwen Council is offering free parking in council-owned car parks at Weir Street and Penny Street.

Cathedral Dean Rev Peter Howell-Jones said: "To be part of this mass roll-out puts us in the history books."

image copyrightPeter Byrne
image captionThe cathedral is among 10 major vaccination hubs around the country

He said using the building for such a public service showed the "welcome and hospitality at the heart of Christianity".

East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust is helping to manage the programme throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Chief executive Kevin McGee said: "We are grateful for the co-operation of everyone at Blackburn Cathedral in making it available."

The region's public health director Professor Dominic Harrison added: "It is always darkest just before the dawn and the vaccination programme is truly the beginning of the end of the pandemic."

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image captionCathedral Dean Rev Peter Howell-Jones said the cathedral is a centre of welcome and hospitality

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