Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Burnham said: “Strictly proceeding by age as the Government is doing at the moment is leading to a massive underuse of resources.  

“When people are getting the letter, as people in the 65-70 age group have got recently, saying ‘do you want to go to the regional centre at Etihad or do you want to wait to go local?’, most people are going local. That is leading to a situation where we’ve got plenty of slots that are just going unfilled.”

Mr Burnham said he believed the situation in Manchester was not unique and is likely to be replicated at other mass vaccination centres.

“Our message to the Government is why not open up the mass vaccination centre to a younger, more mobile cohort who then can go and use that and free up then more slots at the primary care level for people who might struggle to get to the regional centre,” he said.

Mass vaccination centres were introduced in January to help speed up the rollout because they can get through more patients per hour. However, people have always had the choice of whether to travel – potentially up to 45 minutes – to a centre or to take up an offer at their local GP surgery.

As the rollout moves down the age groups, the NHS wants an increasing proportion of the population to receive their jab at larger centres so that family doctors can focus on inoculating patients with underlying health conditions. Ministers hope all adults over 50 will receive a jab by the end of March.

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