The UK government has announced plans to vaccinate “tens of millions of people” against the coronavirus by spring in the latest Downing Street press conference.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock detailed the plans to ramp up the vaccination programme earlier today (January 11).
By the end of January, everyone in England will be within 10 miles of a vaccination site, thanks to seven new national centres. Vaccination sites will also be opening in local pharmacies later this week. For those people living in highly rural areas, the vaccine will be brought to them by mobile teams.
Capacity to deliver the vaccines will be increased to 2 million vaccinations a week in England, while all residents and staff in care homes across the country will be offered a vaccine by the end of the month as well.
“It’s taken a tremendous amount of hard work and dedication to make such an incredible start to this ambitious deployment programme,” Hancock said. “Our vaccine deployment plan sets out exactly how we will harness these efforts to expand the programme quickly and safely.”
In the address, he confirmed that 2.6 million doses of the vaccine have already been administered to 2.3 million people. He added that he was confident that everyone in the top four priority groups would be offered the vaccine by February 15.
Around 80,000 people have been recruited and trained by the government in the last few months to help deliver the vaccine. Speaking to NME last week (January 6), Isle Of Wight boss John Giddings said music industry workers could help speed up the vaccination programme.
“We’re in the music business: we don’t work nine to five, it’s 25 hours a day,” he said. “All these people know what they’re doing, they’ve worked with large crowds in venues hundreds of times before. With all due respect to the British Army, they don’t know the inside track on The O2 or Hammersmith Apollo. I don’t want to vaccinate people, I just want to set it up for people to be vaccinated easily over a 24-hour period. Why can’t we do that?”
Meanwhile, it has been reported that pubs and restaurants could stay closed until May as the government considers when is the right time to relax restrictions. The current national lockdown could also be extended until March 23.