Jabs must be 10 minutes away, not 10 miles - Government reveals vaccination programme plan but many still face long journey
The Government last night scaled up its Covid vaccination plan, pledging to give tens of millions of people the jab by spring.
The target is for at least two million vaccinations a week to be administered from more than 2,700 vaccine sites across the UK.
Minsters say by the end of January everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site – apart from a small number in remote areas where the vaccine will be brought to them.
But the plan still falls short of demands for more local immunisation stations inside the nation’s 11,000 pharmacies – something the Post and our sister papers are campaigning for to make access easier for everyone, within 10 minutes, not 10 miles, of their home.
Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, said: “Vulnerable residents within my constituency do not have their own vehicle and public transport is almost nonexistent. This vaccine is meant to protect the vulnerable, yet we seem to be excluding them.”
The new delivery plan will see the Government working with the NHS, devolved administrations, local councils and the Armed Forces to deliver the largest vaccination programme in Britain’s history.
All residents in more than 10,000 care homes will be offered the vaccine by the end of this month. This will be made possible by a rapid expansion of the programme which will include 206 active hospital sites, 50 vaccination centres and around 1,200 local vaccination sites including primary care networks, community pharmacies and mobile teams.
The Government says it will mean every at-risk person has easy access to a vaccination centre, regardless of where they live. The expansion of the programme will also mean all adults will be offered a vaccine by the autumn.
The Government and the NHS have also mobilised a workforce of over 80,000 health professionals to help in the delivery of the programme across the different vaccination sites, with over 200,000 additional members of the public expressing their interest in helping with the non-clinical elements of the rollout - such as administrative support, logistics, stewards and first aiders. All offers of support have been recorded and individuals will be contacted when they’re needed.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our UK Covid-19 vaccines delivery plan maps our route back to normality, but it does not mean we can be complacent and it is mission critical that everybody abides by the restrictions in the coming weeks.
“The next few months will present a significant opportunity to turn the tide of battle against Covid – I am looking forward to watching these plans bring more reassurance and hope back to people.”
The new plan reiterates the commitment to offer a first vaccine dose to all those in the top two priority groups. With these groups accounting for 88 per cent of Covid fatalities, the move will prevent thousands of deaths once their immunity develops in 14 days.
More than two million people in the UK have already been vaccinated.
Katherine Fletcher, Conservative MP for South Ribble said: “Pharmacies are a fabulous part of our communities and have been amazing during this pandemic already.
“We are currently using local pharmacies, as part of primary care networks, to deliver vaccine jabs. We will launch more this week and next, with more community pharmacies.
“With vaccine supplies limited, nationally we will use two hundred bigger pharmacies that can do the 1000 vaccinations a week as it’s vital to ensure vaccines do not sit in fridges unused. Vaccinating the most vulnerable ASAP is our priority, and it warms the heart to see the big yellow ‘vaccination centre’ signs in Leyland and Penwortham.
“When vaccine supply is plentiful, we will increase the local focus and will bring many many more pharmacies into the delivery network. That way instead of people being within a 10 mile radius of a vaccination site, they will be within walking distance.”
Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, said: “It is essential that everyone is able to access the vaccine, not just people that are able to travel to the nearest mass jab centre, which could be miles and miles away.
“Vulnerable residents within my constituency do not have their own vehicle and public transport is almost nonexistent. This vaccine is meant to protect the vulnerable, yet we seem to be excluding them.”