London Mayor Sadiq Khan gets his first Covid vaccine

London Mayor Sadiq Khan received his first coronavirus jab today as he urged fellow Londoners to follow suit as the capital lags behind the rest of Britain in the rollout.

The 50-year-old Labour politician was given his first dose this morning in Streatham, South West London, after being invited by his GP because he has severe asthma.

Mr Khan, who takes steroid tablets to manage his condition, had the jab at a vaccine centre at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church where his daughter used to perform ballet.

He was given the Pfizer jab by Reverend Dr Sue Clarke, a retired hospital consultant he knows who got her licence back to volunteer to give the jab to him and others.

Asked whether he was wearing an ‘I’ve had my Covid jab’ badge, a beaming Mr Khan told Sky News: ‘Absolutely, and I’m wearing it really, really proudly – and just for the avoidance of doubt, I didn’t wince when I had the jab, I was a real brave boy.’ 

People aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions are among those being given their jabs at the moment in the second phase of the vaccine delivery scheme. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, administered by Dr Sue Clarke, at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London this morning

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, administered by Dr Sue Clarke, at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London this morning

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan receives his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, administered by Dr Sue Clarke, at Mitcham Lane Baptist Church in South West London this morning

Mr Khan was asked by his GP to receive the jab in the current rollout phase due to his asthma

Mr Khan was asked by his GP to receive the jab in the current rollout phase due to his asthma

Mr Khan was asked by his GP to receive the jab in the current rollout phase due to his asthma

These conditions can include any kind of chronic respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma.

Mr Khan said today: ‘I’m relieved and very grateful to have received the first dose of my COVID-19 vaccine today.

Over-40s could get jabs by end of March 

Britons as young as 40 could be offered a jab within a few weeks.

Government advisers are set to recommend the next phase of the vaccine rollout continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers.

But the age brackets will be wider than before – meaning 40 to 49-year-olds are likely to be invited to have a jab once the 32million people in the top nine groups have had their first dose.

Earlier this week it emerged this target could be hit as soon as March 24, if the daily average is maintained. This would mean the over-40s being invited for a jab in less than five weeks.

It would be a huge boost for Britain’s vaccine programme and could add to the pressure on ministers to ease the lockdown sooner. 

The priority list for the rollout is determined by the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which met yesterday to draft its recommendations for the next phase. 

These are expected to be signed off by members today before being sent to ministers to approve at the start of next week.

It is understood that the committee rejected the idea of prioritising key workers or ethnic minorities in favour of a simple age-based approach.

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‘I was asked by my GP to take the vaccine as I have severe asthma, and I urge everyone who is offered it to take it as soon as possible.

‘These vaccines are a testament to the hard work of scientists around the world and we owe them, and the NHS staff and volunteers who are helping to deliver the jabs, a great deal of thanks.

‘The widespread rollout of these vaccines will protect us from serious illness, will help us all to get back to the things we have missed and let us see the people we love.’

He added that more than 1.5million Londoners had already received their first dose, saying: ‘I again urge all Londoners to have the vaccine as soon as you are offered it. It is safe and it will save lives.’

Mr Khan also insisted there should be no return to the tiering system in place before the current lockdown in England.

The Mayor of London said: ‘I think the Government’s tiering system hasn’t worked, it has been a catastrophic failure and that’s why I think we need to look towards the country as a whole.

‘The reality is what we can’t do is lift lockdown because we’ve seen good progress in one part of the country, which inadvertently leads to a lack of progress in another part of the country.

‘I think we’ve got to learn the lessons of the mistakes made in the past.’

Dr Penny Osborne, of the Greyswood Practice GP surgery, which is running the clinic at the church, said: ‘Local rollout of the vaccine is progressing well.

‘We have already been able to offer all of our community’s most vulnerable patients the vaccine and are now focusing our efforts on inviting those aged 16 to 64 who are in at-risk clinical groups, which includes Sadiq.

‘The speed of the roll out has been due to the fantastic level of community support we have received.

‘Our clinic is primarily staffed by trained volunteers as well as current and former NHS staff who have put extraordinary amounts of time and effort into ensuring the success of this endeavour.’ 

 

 

Hannah Roberts, church manager, added: ‘Mitcham Lane Baptist Church has been open as a Covid vaccine centre since the middle of January and in that time over 5,000 local residents have been able to receive their vaccination, including many of our own church family.

Care home hugs could be allowed after just one jab 

Rules on care home visits could be relaxed within weeks to allow people to hold hands with loved ones.

Care minister Helen Whately indicated yesterday that restrictions could be eased before residents receive their second vaccine dose.

All care home residents and staff in England have now been offered vaccination against Covid, but recipients face a 12-week delay between the first and second shots. Miss Whately said she wants care homes to open up ‘sooner than that’.

She told Sky News: ‘I really, really want to open up visiting in care homes more.

‘What I want to do as we come out of the national lockdown is also increase the amount of visiting.

‘I don’t see that we have to wait for the second vaccination dose – I want us to open up sooner than that.’

Miss Whately said any approach would be ‘cautious’ as most residents will only have had their first dose of the jab, but added she was ‘determined’ to make it happen.

‘Even if it’s to be able to hold hands again and see somebody who you haven’t been able to see very much… I really want to make that happen again.’ The minister’s comments, which come days before Boris Johnson announces his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, are a welcome sign for care home residents and their families.

They follow the Mail’s Christmas campaign to allow relatives to hold their loved ones’ hands once again. Miss Whately warned against rushing measures, saying that the lifting of care home restrictions must occur ‘step by step’.

‘There is still a way to go to see, for instance, whether the vaccine stops people from being infectious and how it plays through,’ she told the BBC.

‘We will, for instance, still be asking people to use PPE and follow those kinds of procedures.’ She stressed: ‘I don’t want to have to wait for the second vaccination dose. Clearly, that’s really important to give care home residents maximum protection but I really want us to be able to open up cautiously and carefully.’ 

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‘The church has been operating online for nearly a year now with very few people using our extensive buildings, so it has been a real joy and privilege to be able to serve our local community in this way and fits in so well with the church motto: ‘Love God, Love People, Love Life’.

‘We look forward to continue working together with the Greyswood Practice until we reach a point, hopefully not too far in the future, when we can open again fully for services and the return of all the local community groups that we previously hosted.’

NHS England figures revealed 1,587,731 Londoners had received a first dose by the end of Wednesday – which is the smallest amount out of seven NHS England regions.

The capital has also recorded the fewest doses per head of population, reaching 22 per cent of the estimated 7.1million residents over 16.

This is significantly lower than 31 per cent in the Midlands and 35 per cent in the South West, reported the London Evening Standard.

Mr Khan revealed in May 2016 that he had ‘only recently’ started suffering from asthma as he vowed to clean up London’s toxic air while visiting a school in Aldgate.

He said at the time: ‘I know from personal experience that the city’s air is damaging people’s health, as I only recently started suffering from asthma as an adult.’

Meanwhile, the Mail revealed today that Britons as young as 40 could be offered a jab within a few weeks.

Government advisers are set to recommend the next phase of the vaccine rollout continues on the basis of age, rather than prioritising key workers.

But the age brackets will be wider than before – meaning 40 to 49-year-olds are likely to be invited to have a jab once the 32million people in the top nine groups have had their first dose.

Earlier this week it emerged this target could be hit as soon as March 24, if the daily average is maintained. This would mean the over-40s being invited for a jab in less than five weeks.

It would be a huge boost for Britain’s vaccine programme and could add to the pressure on ministers to ease the lockdown sooner. 

The priority list for the rollout is determined by the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which met yesterday to draft its recommendations for the next phase. 

These are expected to be signed off by members today before being sent to ministers to approve at the start of next week.

It is understood that the committee rejected the idea of prioritising key workers or ethnic minorities in favour of a simple age-based approach.

In further encouraging news Public Health England (PHE) said cases were still falling in all regions, while separate figures suggested deaths among the over-80s are down by two thirds in three weeks.  

Boris Johnson is due to unveil his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday after a meeting of his ‘Covid O’ committee and data – expected today – on how well the vaccine rollout is working.

How Sadiq Khan suffers from severe asthma which makes him more at risk from Covid-19

Sadiq Khan was asked by his GP to have the Covid-19 vaccine because he has severe asthma.

The politician takes steroid tablets to manage his condition, and revealed in May 2016 that he had ‘only recently’ started suffering from it as he vowed to clean up London’s toxic air while visiting a school in Aldgate.

He said at the time: ‘I know from personal experience that the city’s air is damaging people’s health, as I only recently started suffering from asthma as an adult.’

The main symptoms of asthma – which is a common lung condition – are a whistling sound when breathing, coughing, breathlessness and a tight chest which can feel like a band is tightening around it.

Guidance from Asthma UK states that the evidence around who with asthma is most at risk from coronavirus has changed during the pandemic.

Early on last year, the Government indicated that people with asthma who were entitled to get the flu jab were clinically vulnerable.

But since then scientists have found people with well-controlled asthma that is not severe do not seem to be at higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

People at higher clinical risk are those who either have severe asthma, need regular or continuous oral steroids, or have a history of asthma attacks that have required an overnight stay in hospital.

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The Mail revealed this week that under the current plans, life is unlikely to return to normal until July. That has led to pressure on Mr Johnson to go further in easing restrictions. 

In other developments: 

  • Mr Johnson was set to announce Britain will donate up to three quarters of its surplus vaccines to poorer countries; 
  • Pubs and restaurants demanded they be allowed to open soon after Easter;
  • Holidays to Greece are on the horizon for inoculated Britons after talks began on using ‘vaccine passports’;
  • The Justice Secretary suggested that firms could refuse to employ people who have not had the Covid vaccine under ‘no jab, no job’ contracts;
  • PHE said 147 out of 149 councils saw a drop in their infection rates in the seven days to February 14;
  • A minister suggested that care home visits, with people allowed to hold hands, could resume in weeks;
  • Dozens of MPs warned Britain was facing a ‘cancer disaster’ that could cost tens of thousands of lives;
  • A study suggested the South Africa strain may make the Pfizer vaccine less effective;
  • It was announced yesterday that a further 454 people had died and another 12,057 had tested positive for the virus.

The first 15million people to receive the jab were prioritised by five-year age bands, and also included frontline health and social care workers.

The current phase includes everyone over 50 as well as those who have certain underlying medical conditions.

It had been thought this group would all have been offered the first dose by the start of May, but it emerged earlier this week that the target could be hit much sooner – potentially in late March.

The issue of who should be prioritised next has been debated for weeks, with many arguing key workers – such as police or teachers – should be offered a jab first. 

It has also been suggested ethnic minorities should be prioritised as data from the first wave suggested they were up to twice as likely to die from Covid.

Members of the JCVI are said to be satisfied that those at highest risk within the key worker and ethnic minority groups are already accounted for, due to being ‘clinically vulnerable’ or ‘over 50’. 

However, they are believed to have suggested the age brackets could be widened from five years to ten in the next phase.

This is because the difference in death risk between someone aged 30 and someone aged 39 is significantly less than between a 70-year-old and a 79-year-old. There is therefore no need to segment younger people into such narrow age categories.

Ministers may still take a ‘political decision’ to prioritise teachers and other frontline workers, contrary to the committee’s guidance. There is a chance some other medical conditions may be added to the priority list, too.

A source said: ‘Members are now close to an agreement on what the next stage of the vaccine rollout programme should look like.’

The Government met its target of offering a vaccine to 15million people in the top four groups by February 15.

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