Today (13 January) Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that COVID-19 vaccination centres would be running 24/7 “as soon as we can”
Earlier this week, Downing Street announced that there was no “clamour” for vaccination past 8pm. Today, PM Johnson contradicted this earlier stance and promised that vaccinations would become an all-night service.
Speaking to the Commons, PM Johnson said: “We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can.”
Labour leader, Keir Starmer, responded: “The sooner the better for our NHS and for our economy.”
35,975 patients in hospital, huge NHS staff absence
Currently, the NHS is handling 35,075 patients with COVID-19. Over three thousand of them are on ventilation. The UK Government has set an ambitious goal of 15 million people vaccinated by 15 February, which means thousands of NHS staff must re-train to create the workforce to give the vaccinations. Currently, one third of respondents to a healthcare survey say that they haven’t had their first dose.
The BMA tweeted: “Slow pace of vaccination is leading to very significant staff absences because they either have the virus or are having to self-isolate, so this must be addressed.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chair, said: “GPs are working incredibly hard to vaccinate their communities, but basic logistics and simple messaging for patients are key to this.”
‘Over 1,000 vaccination sites’
Speaking on Sunday, before this new development, vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “By the end of this week, we will have over 1,000 GP-led vaccination sites up and running, as well as 223 hospital sites, 7 giant vaccination centres and the first wave of 200 community pharmacies.
“It means it won’t be too long before we can expand our programme down the priority list and more of us can get the jabs, using our new National Booking service to make appointments.”
Oldham Council and local GPs decided that homeless people should be made a priority group to get the vaccine at the start of the rollout, while in Southeast Asia, Indonesia decided to inoculate the younger, more mobile population.
Some people in the UK appear happy to visit COVID-19 vaccination centres at any hour:
We clearly assumed that, the moment there is a plentiful supply of the vaccine and the people to administer it, there would be 24/7 access. If the govt actually HAS enough vaccines, go ahead. I am waiting for my text message. I will be there, as will every other person I know.
— Linds 💙🇪🇺 #FBPE (@Linds54) January 11, 2021
Others are pointing out that the healthcare staff administering vaccines are already overwhelmed:
I agree! But the issue is having enough healthcare workers to 1) work in the overwhelmed hospitals, 2) ensure adequate testing is still available, & 3) administer the 2-part vaccine all while trying not to get sick themselves & take care of their families. 😢
— nomad gl00m (@nomadgloom) January 11, 2021
While the UK continues to wrestle with increasing COVID fatalities and case numbers, can the seven new COVID vaccination centres make a meaningful difference?