Teenagers as young as 17 in Bolton have been given the Covid vaccine as 6,000 people rushed to have the jab over the weekend after an outbreak of the Indian variant.
The town in Greater Manchester was identified as one of the UK’s hotspots as areas within the BL3 postcode registered a small number of cases of the variant, leading to widespread testing.
Over the weekend thousands of people queued around the block as they waited in line for the vaccine.
The scenes were repeated today as weekly data revealed Bolton had the highest Covid-19 case rate of all variants with 228.5 cases per 100,000 people.
More people joined the queues in Bolton, Gr Manchester, today to receive the Covid vaccine
Delighted Gavin Carr, 17, said it was the ‘obvious choice’ to get the vaccine as he believes he caught the virus early in the pandemic
Compared to the average in the country which sits at 20.6 cases per 100,000 people for the same period.
Among those to be given the jab was 17-year-old Gavin Carr on Sunday who believes he caught Covid early in the pandemic when his father Colin, 51, and mum Rachel, 50, fell ill.
The music student called on youngsters to get the jab when called upon.
He said: ‘So many people have died from this Covid, we need to do everything we can to end it.
‘If you think there’s a virus going about and you don’t know how long it’ll be around – the only thing to combat it is a vaccine.
Thousands of people in Bolton have had the jab over the weekend
‘I think it’s possibly more important for young people to get the vaccine as we’re the ones who will be going out more now that the lockdown is over.
‘I think young people should definitely get it if they can. The vaccine saves lives.
‘My dad had Covid, early in the pandemic, and we were both ill. I think I had Covid then, and that was horrible.
‘I very rarely get ill but I couldn’t even get out of bed. People need to compare a mild headache to what Covid can do.
‘It’s obvious which is the right choice.
‘If you have the vaccine, you’re not just protecting yourself but other people. The fewer people are vaccinated the more likely it is that we spread this deadly virus.’
Dr Helen Wall, who is co-ordinating Bolton’s vaccination programme, said her team were ‘going to find reasons to vaccinate people, not reasons not to’.
Bolton’s infection rate is twice that of the next worst Covid hotspot in Bedford
Dr Harrison told BBC Radio Lancashire: ‘Anyone who’s a carer, so if you’ve gone shopping for your gran, or for any vulnerable household member, you are performing a caring role and you are a carer.
Yesterday a further centre opened at Bolton Wanderers stadium offered pre-booked appointments to over-16s as officials sought to target around 10,000 residents in the highest priority groups who have yet to be vaccinated.
Bolton’s infection rate is twice that of the next worst Covid hotspot, Bedford, with rates doubling in a week to 282 per 100,000 people over the past seven days.
Doctors in Bolton said they were ‘finding reasons to vaccinate people, not turn them away’
Meanwhile in neighbouring Blackburn, which has the third highest rate in the country and where an extra 1,000 daily jabs have been allocated, residents have been told that even going shopping for a grandparent constitutes being an unpaid carer – and therefore eligible for a jab.
Dr Dominic Harrison, director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen, said he was ‘urging anyone over 18 to book an appointment’ and then discuss on arrival whether they met one of the eligibility criteria.
A ‘very, very, very large percentage’ would be cleared to have a vaccine.
The massive effort to boost immunity comes amid surging case rates, particularly among under-30s, in the neighbouring boroughs.
Cases are fuelled by a spike in the more transmissible Indian variant – and have sparked fears of a return to local lockdowns, to the horror of local businesses.