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Pharmacies join Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in England

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The director of a high street pharmacy has described joining England’s Covid-19 vaccination roll-out as one of the “biggest days of my career” as the site began delivering its first jabs.

Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield, Cheshire, is one of six pharmacies in the country to begin administering doses as the government seeks to expand its vaccination programme.

Speaking on Thursday, director Andrew Hodgson, who has owned pharmacies in the area for more than 30 years, described the rush to set up a vaccination site as “a whirlwind”.

He gave the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab to 82-year-old Robert Salt at 8am on Thursday morning.

Pharmacist Andrew Hodgson (left) speaks to Robert Salt (centre), 82, before he receives an injection of the coronavirus vaccine at Andrews Pharmacy in Macclesfield (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It is probably the biggest single day of my career,” Mr Hodgson said.

He added: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. We’ve set this up in three or four weeks from scratch.

“The whole team is very excited to be part of the roll-out.”

Mr Hodgson said he knew four generations of some of the families who use the pharmacy.

“I feel close to the people who are getting vaccinated and it is a personal experience for them,” he said.

Mr Salt said it was “wonderful” to have received his first dose, adding: “There was a little trepidation but it’s good, everything has gone fine today, apart from the weather.”

He said he felt relieved, but added he still had to be careful as his wife was still waiting for a vaccine appointment because she is under 80.

“I’m healthy but you know you’re in the age range where you’re very vulnerable,” Mr Salt said.

Robert Salt received the first dose of the vaccine to be delivered at Andrews Pharmacy (Peter Byrne/PA)

“The situation with the death rates going up the way they have done is pretty frightening.”

Elsewhere, Boots in Halifax, Cullimore Chemist in Edgware, north London, Woodside Pharmacy in Telford, Appleton Village Pharmacy in Widnes and Superdrug in Guildford have also joined the roll-out.

Natasha Eastwood, manager of Boots in Halfax, said she was “thrilled” the site had been selected as one of the first pharmacies to deliver the vaccine.

“Pharmacies like ours are at the very heart of their local community, offering a trusted team and location that our patients are familiar and comfortable with to be vaccinated against Covid-19,” she said.

Seb James, managing director Boots UK and Republic of Ireland, said additional sites would be opening in its Huddersfield and Gloucester branches in the coming weeks, with more stores under consideration.

The NHS Covid-19 vaccination centre at Boots, Halifax (Will Johnston/Boots)

Mr James said: “Like Covid-19 testing, we believe Boots can play a key role in the vaccination programme – our pharmacists are experts in vaccination programmes and have a trusted role at the heart of our local communities.

“Pharmacies are extremely well placed to support the roll-out of this vaccine quickly and safely, and we stand ready to do much more.”

Peter Cast, 87, from Ashtead in Surrey, was one of the first to receive the vaccine at Superdrug in Guildford.

“The fact that we have moved from the virus through the scientific processes of research to a possible answer with a vaccine is absolutely miraculous, and more particularly the time over which it has happened,” he said.

“I’m very conscious that a hundred years ago my mother lost a brother to the flu virus and I have always been conscious of its danger. So I think the step forward that the science and the drug manufacturers have made over the last 12 months is astonishing.”

Peter Cast, 87, from Ashtead, receives the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine at Superdrug in Guildford (Matt Alexander/PA)

Christine Zemba, lead pharmacist at the branch, urged anyone who has been contacted to arrange a vaccine appointment at a pharmacy to attend.

“Community pharmacies are very skilled in giving mass vaccinations such as flu.

“We are very accessible to the public and we can also rely on our vast clinical knowledge – even though this is a new vaccine – to be able to give a safe and effective service,” she said.

Patients wait to receive the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine at Superdrug in Guildford (Matt Alexander/PA)

Michael Henry, healthcare director at Superdrug, said plans were under way to open vaccination sites in stores in Manchester, Leeds, Basingstoke and Bristol operating 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

He said: “I believe it is critically important that everyone plays their part in supporting the national effort against Covid-19 and ensuring that we get the country and the economy back on track as soon as possible.”

The government aims to have vaccinated all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.

Those who are eligible for a vaccine will be contacted and invited to make an appointment through a new national booking service.

This gives them the option of having a vaccine at a pharmacy or in a GP-led vaccination centre.

By the end of the month more than 200 community chemists with capacity for 1,000 doses a week will be able to give vaccines, according to NHS England.

(PA Graphics)

The pharmacies join the 200 hospitals, around 800 GP clinics and seven mass vaccination centres where jabs are already being handed out.

The first six pharmacies were picked because they can deliver large volumes of the vaccine and allow for social distancing.

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Iran

Culture min., Cinema Organization head send messages to TISFF

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Culture min., Cinema Organization head send messages to TISFF

Salehi, in his message to TISFF, which was inaugurated in Tehran on Jan 20, said the short film is a quatrain of the world of images and the  Iranians are forerunners in writing couplets in the world and will be the same in producing short films. 

In the meantime, Entezami in his message hailed the organizers of the festival and wished further success for them.

Commenting on holding the festival in an online format, Entezami underscored that good measures have been taken and instead of shutting down and being passive in the face of the Coronavirus phenomenon.

He said the festival organizers have created new opportunities and conditions, including the distancing of different sections of the festival.

Entezami also hoped that a significant part of the works, which in terms of quality and quantity, will be considered more and better than the performance of young filmmakers last year.

Presided by Sadeq Mousavi, some 63 short films will vie in the international section of the event from 19 countries including France, India, US, Spain, Germany, Ghana, China, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Russia, South Africa, Belgium, Kazakhstan as well as Iran.

The short films will also stream online for filmgoers during the event, and winners will be announced on January 25.

In this year edition, over 4,986 foreign and 1,700 Iranian short films were submitted to different sections of the festival.

In the meantime, 146 Iranian films are competing in the national sections of the event which include feature, documentary, experimental and animation.

MNA/PR

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Dustin Diamond undergoing chemotherapy treatments for cancer

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Original Saved By The Bell star Dustin Diamond has begun chemotherapy treatments after being diagnosed with cancer, according to his representative.

Diamond, best known for playing Screech on the hit 90s sitcom, was taken to hospital earlier this month in Florida.

Last week, his team disclosed he had cancer.

“Dustin has completed his first round of chemo and his next round is being scheduled. He will also begin his physical therapy soon,” the actor’s spokesman, Roger Paul, said in a statement.

“Dustin is looking forward to spending more time with his girlfriend, playing his bass guitar/video games, as well as making videos for his fans on social media,” Mr Paul added.

Saved By The Bell aired from 1989 to 1993, and its spinoffs included Saved By The Bell: The College Years and “Saved By The Bell: The New Class, both of which Diamond starred in.

A sequel was launched on Peacock this fall featuring many from the original cast, including Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, Tiffani Thiessen and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Diamond was not included.

Diamond has been sued several times for delinquent taxes and in foreclosure proceedings for missing mortgage payments.

He has appeared on reality TV shows, made a sex tape and produced a tell-all documentary on Lifetime TV called The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story.

In 2015, he was sentenced to serve four months in jail for his part in a Wisconsin barroom stabbing.

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