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Labour leads calls for 24/7 vaccination operation in the UK
Boris MUST give vaccines round-the-clock: Labour leads calls for PM to tear up red tape and allow jabs 24/7 amid demands for police, teachers and shift workers to get inoculated after No10 insisted there is no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm
- Government has batted away calls for crucial vaccination drive to be 24 hours
- Labour hiked pressure after No10 said no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm
- Calls for frontline workers to be higher on priority list to get UK back to normal
How the Government’s vaccine plan breaks down
PHASE 1 (FEB 15 TARGET)
CARE HOME RESIDENTS – 300,000
CARE HOME WORKERS – 500,000
AGE 80+ – 3,300,000
HEALTHCARE WORKERS – 2,400,000
SOCIAL CARE WORKERS – 1,400,000
AGE 75-79 – 2,300,000
AGE 70-74 – 3,200,000
CLINICALLY EXTREMELY VULNERABLE (UNDER 70) – 1,200,000
PHASE 2 (SPRING)
AT-RISK UNDER 65 7,300,000
PHASE 3 (AUTUMN)
REST OF ADULT POPULATION 21,000,000
Boris Johnson is facing growing pressure to launch round-the-clock vaccinations as ministers ‘race against time’ to get jabs in arms.
Labour has demanded the Government ‘sorts out’ a 24/7 operation despite No10 claiming there is no ‘clamour’ for appointments after 8pm.
Tory MPs are urging ministers to ‘look carefully’ at whether the hours can be extended, although most have stopped short of calling for the priority list to be torn up.
The PM has promised that around 13million of the most vulnerable Britons will be vaccinated by mid-February.
The aim is for everyone over the age of 50 to be offered a Covid jab by the end of April.
But doubts have been raised about the target with numbers standing at around 2.7million as of yesterday, and there are also calls for frontline workers such as teachers to be pushed up the priority list.
The latest ambitious timetable means vaccinating 32million Britons – six in ten adults – within 16 weeks. Two million jabs will have to be given every week in the ‘greatest logistical challenge of our time’.
A 47-page masterplan published last night said the nation’s remaining adults – another 21million – would be inoculated by autumn.
This second phase is likely to prioritise teachers, police, shop staff and others whose jobs involve dealing with the public.
The 13million most vulnerable – over-70s, health workers and care residents – are already scheduled to receive their jabs by February 15. Doses will be 12 weeks apart.
The aim is for all over-50s to have the first jab of the two-dose vaccine by May.
More than 80,000 medics and volunteers will operate from 2,700 centres and the taskforce could swell to 300,000.
Nearly 2.7million vaccine doses have been administered in the UK according to figures released by the government yesterday
Health Secretary Matt Hancock during a visit yesterday to the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up in the grounds of the horse racing course at Epsom in Surrey
But while Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night that the NHS will would do ‘whatever it takes’, he played down the prospect of a round-the clock operation, saying people will prefer to get jabs in the day.
And in the Commons, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said it will not happen in the first phase, where the four most vulnerable groups are being targeted, because staff would end up ‘standing around waiting’.
‘If we were to go to a 24-hour regime, it would be much harder to target the vaccine at those four cohorts,’ he said.
‘Obviously, when we have limited vaccine volume, we do not want staff standing around waiting for people in centres that are open 24 hours.
‘Also, many of those people are over 80, and we are going into care homes to vaccinate the residents of those homes.
‘The decision to go from 8am to 8pm was made because we want to ensure that there is an even spread and very close targeting.’
Former minister Steve Baker, a leader of the lockdown-sceptic CRG group of Tory MPs, told MailOnline the Government must ‘look carefully’ at extending the hours.
‘The sooner the vulnerable are vaccinated, the sooner we can end these destructive cycles of lockdowns and restrictions,’ he said.
‘So the Government should look closely at all the practical problems of 24/7 operation and press forward with it if it would help meet necessary goals.’
Another Tory MP suggested to MailOnline that the Government should soon look at extending opening hours to 6am and 10pm to increase the daily number of jabs.
But they said ‘supply isn’t coming from the manufacturers in the quantities needed yet’ to move to extended opening hours.
At a Downing Street briefing last night, Mr Hancock was asked about comments from the Prime Minister’s spokesman that there was not a ‘clamour’ for a 24/7 vaccination model.
He said: ‘We’ll do this if it’s needed, absolutely we will do whatever it takes to get this vaccine rolled out as fast as possible.
‘The thing is that if both the person doing the vaccination and the person being vaccinated would both prefer for that to happen in the middle of the day, rather than the middle of the night, then that’s probably when we should do it.’
He said there would be some groups where a 24/7 model may be the best approach but added: ‘Our attitude on the vaccine rollout is whatever it takes to do this as fast and safely possible.’
NHS England’s Professor Stephen Powis said that working through the day was the ‘most efficient’ use of staff and volunteers.
Professor Powis added: ‘I’m sure for the vast majority of people they would prefer to have their vaccine during the day.
‘And the best use of our staff and volunteers… working through the day is the most efficient way of delivering the most vaccine.’
Queus build up as signs go up at the Life Science Centre International Centre for Life in Newcastle, the hub for the north-east
Sir Keir Starmer has been leading calls for the vaccination operation to be made 24-hours and for teachers to be pushed up the priority list
He said the vaccination strategy was to open as many centres in as many different settings as possible.
‘I think that will give the vast majority of people a range of choice as to where they can most conveniently and most closely get their vaccinations,’ he added.
‘And frankly, that is the best way to maximise the number of vaccines that we are able to give.’
However, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Our wonderful NHS staff are rising to the challenge, as they always do, to deliver the vaccine.
‘The British people have sacrificed so much, now the Government must deliver for the British people. The Prime Minister needs to use this lockdown to develop a round-the-clock vaccine programme, 24-hours a day, 7 days-a-week.
‘If the Government can’t sort out 24/7 vaccinations they need to admit that this is as a result of their own shortcomings, not blame the public and NHS staff.’
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