THE Covid-19 vaccination programme has started at Southend Hospital - and 300 people will get the jab every day.

This opening of Southend as a hub for vaccinations means the three main hospital sites that make up Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust - Basildon Hospital, Broomfield Hospital and Southend Hospital - are now rolling the Covid vaccine out seven days a week.

Around 300 people a day will be receiving their jab at the hospital, and Margaret Stringer, 81, from Hockley, was one of the first.

Basildon Standard: First patient - Margaret StringerFirst patient - Margaret Stringer

She said: "I'm a carer for my husband, so I still have to go out sometimes, but keep it to a minimum. It's so important to get the vaccination as people still aren't following the rules.”

Husband and wife Ron and Pam Pinder from Thundersley were also at the hospital to get their first dose of the Covid vaccine. Ron, 86, said: "There was no trouble having it, I didn't even know it had been done. It's just like having the flu jab."

His wife, Pam, 81, said: "We'll get our second vaccine in about 12 weeks, but this is positive step forward. We know we still have to stay distanced and wearing our masks, but it just feels good to have the first one."

The couple left the hub hand in hand, and although they know they will still only be going to hospital appointments or their once a week trip to the supermarket, a brighter future lies ahead.

Ron added: "NHS staff have been marvellous. Without their help we wouldn't be starting back on the road to normality."

Home Secretary Priti Patel said vaccination centres are following Covid-secure guidelines to ensure they are safe for staff and visitors receiving jabs.

She told the Downing Street press conference: “Cubicles are spaced out and we’re working with Public Health England and following all the guidance in terms of the safety and protective measures that are required for the staff in those centres but also for the individuals coming in for immunisation.”

Dr Vin Diwakar, the medical director for the NHS in London, added: “We have absolutely rigid standards of infection prevention control in all of these vaccine centres.”