People flock for Covid vaccination jabs in Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton after Indian variant fears
People in Blackburn with Darwen and Bolton flocked to get their jabs, with increased vaccination under way amid concerns over the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus.
Additional supplies of more than 1,000 Pfizer vaccines per day for the next fortnight have been made available for the East Lancashire borough which currently has the third highest Covid-19 rate in the UK – behind Bolton and Bedford.
Over the weekend more than 6,200 vaccines were administered in the Bolton area, as their neighbours in Blackburn began their surge on Monday for those eligible.
Appointments were filled throughout the day at the Everest Pharmacy in Darwen, with five other similar vaccination centres opening from Tuesday.
Norte Zavvar, 35, from Bolton, a volunteer Covid marshal at the pharmacy, said: “People really want to have this jab, I have seen so many people coming today and I reckon at the end of the day we will have vaccinated at least 1,000 people.
“It’s obvious that the fear people have from this virus – it really made them move and come out and get the vaccine done.”
Blackburn with Darwen’s director of public health. Professor Dominic Harrison, says the next two weeks are “critical” for the area.
He told BBC Radio Lancashire: “One of the things we have learned from Bolton’s experience, and we know that Bolton is probably about a week to 10 days ahead of us in terms of the rise and spread, is that they have got an increasing level of hospitalisation.
“Many of those who have been hospitalised have been people who have already been eligible for the jab and they decided not to have the jab and have now become quite ill.
“So it’s critical that everybody who has not yet taken the offer of the vaccination does so over the next two weeks.”
Across East Lancashire six people – five from Blackburn – were in hospital through Covid-19 over the weekend, with an average age of about 55 and one person of school age, he said.
Explaining that he expected the increase in Covid rates to continue this week, he said: “If our interventions are having effect by the end of the following week I am hopeful that we will see the case-rise plateau.
“If the rate continues to rise after two weeks then we will just have to accelerate even further the vaccination programme.”
Businesses in Blackburn town centre welcomed Monday’s further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
Claire Khan, 35, owner of sandwich bar Well Bread, said: “They all seem dead excited, happy to be back, happy to be able to come and sit down.
“It has felt better today, it has definitely felt busier and there has been a bit of a buzz in the place and a bit of noise.
“Dinner time the whole seating area was absolutely full.”
Michael Davidson, 26, from Blackburn, a supervisor at Rhode Island Coffee, said: “It’s not been absolutely chocka, we thought town would be absolutely full of people but that’s not been the case, but we have had a much busier day and have taken about double the takings we would usually take.
“No-one seems nervous to be honest, I think everyone just seems happy to be back, and everyone has played by the rules today.
“I feel happy here and I feel safe, as a business we are doing all we can, we are doing what we are told to do.”
It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.