With over 15 million people having now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the UK government has called on British businesses “no matter how big or small” to continue supporting the national vaccine rollout effort.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng paid tribute to leading businesses such as Marks and Spencer, Heineken and Boots, who have made offers to repurpose vital workspaces including warehouses, pubs and shops, to be used as vaccination hubs to support NHS staff in delivering the UK’s biggest vaccination programme.

Business leaders are also allowing thousands of British workers to take paid time off work to receive their vaccine, explained Kwasi, while also encouraging their staff, supporting crucial tasks such as checking patients in and guiding people at vaccinations sites across the UK.

He commented: “It has been awe-inspiring to see businesses lending their hand over the past few months to our heroic healthcare workers and clinicians – all playing their part to support the biggest vaccination programme in our nation’s history.

“Businesses and their workers have shown an indomitable spirit and leadership that will help us to defeat this virus, and I urge all businesses, no matter how big or small, to join us and do what they can as we reach the next stage of the rollout.

“I want to thank British businesses for their ingenuity and collaboration, which will help guide us towards the light at the end of the tunnel, which is getting brighter by the day.”

Nadhim Zahawi, vaccine minister, added: “The rollout of our vaccine programme is our route out of this pandemic, and I am incredibly grateful to UK businesses for rallying to support this monumental effort.

“Businesses have once again proven themselves to be up to the challenge of fighting Covid-19, both in supporting their own employees to receive the vaccine and in offering up practical resources to get vaccine centres operating up and down the country.

“The ingenuity and collaboration we have seen from businesses is nothing short of remarkable, and I thank them sincerely for all that they are doing to help in the UK’s roadmap out of this pandemic.”