Nearly 160,000 vaccine doses have been given to people in Lancashire and South Cumbria since early December, new data reveals.

The Government figures for the county show that 75,598 people under the age of 80 have had their first dose, with 2,779 second doses administered in that age group.

A total of 70,027 initial doses have been given to people aged over 80 by Health Lancashire and South Cumbria trust, followed by 9,643 second doses.

The figures also show that 75.7 per cent of people over 80 in the region have received their first dose - the fourth highest rate of any area in England - with 10.4pc getting their second dose.

Today (January 21) is the first time the Government has issued local figures. The cover the period from December 8 to January 17.

Earlier this week Blackburn Cathedral opened a mass vaccination centre with Blackpool's Winter gardens set to open one of the largest centres in the county on Monday.

Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans and the Bishop of Blackburn have praised the success of efforts to give coronavirus vaccinations to priority groups so far.

Mr Evans said: “I’m thrilled that the vaccine continues to be delivered at pace in Lancashire, and I’d like to pay tribute to the hard work of everyone involved in the vaccine rollout.

“Every jab in someone’s arm could be a life saved, and it’s reassuring to know that so many of those most vulnerable to Covid-19 have already received their first dose.”

Bishop of Blackburn the Rt Rev Julian Henderson said: “Thanks to the brilliance of scientists in this country and overseas, the vaccine will enable us to battle Covid-19 head on.

“For our Cathedral to be able to be at the heart of that battle, offering its building to be a mass vaccination centre, is a wonderful development and I’m delighted we are able to help in this way.

“It’s an amazing achievement to get the centre up and running so quickly and I want to thank everyone involved in making it all happen.”

Cumbria and North East NHS trust have given out 271, 536 vaccines over the same period. This includes 139,873 people under 80 and 114,117  over 80 getting their first dose.

The trust has the fifth highest rate in the county for over 80s vaccinations at 70.8pc.

Government data up to January 20 shows of the 5,437,284 jabs given in the UK so far, 4,973,248 were first doses – a rise of 363,508 on the previous day’s figures.

Some 464,036 were second doses, an increase of 3,411 on figures released the previous day.

The seven-day rolling average of first doses given in the UK is now 293,571.

Based on the latest figures, an average of 401,070 first doses of vaccine would be needed each day in order to meet the Government’s target of 15 million first doses by February 15.

Home Secretary Priti Patel ronight assured that coronavirus vaccines are safe as she sought to counter disinformation, particularly that targeted at individuals from minority ethnic backgrounds.

She told a Downing Street press conference: “I want to take this moment and opportunity to counter some of the disinformation about the vaccine especially any messages targeted towards those from an ethnic minority background.

“This vaccine is safe for us all. It will protect you and your family. It is our best chance of beating this virus.

“So I urge everyone from across our wonderfully diverse country to get the vaccine when their turn comes to keep us all safe.”

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