Wednesday 30 December 2020 / 10:30 PM Jonathan Ashworth

Labour demands Government redoubles efforts to roll out vaccine with aim to vaccinate at least two million a week

Labour demands Government redoubles efforts to roll out vaccine with aim to vaccinate at least two million a week

With the approval of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine, Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, today (Thursday) says the country is in “a race against time” to roll out mass vaccinations.

Labour is pushing for Ministers to increase their Covid-19 vaccine target to two million vaccines a week initially, before ramping up further to bring the virus under control and provide hope that restrictions can be eased before Easter.

As millions more people enter the toughest Tier 4 restrictions equivalent to lockdown, Labour warned that unless the Government hits 2 million vaccinations a week, it will take the best part of a year to vaccinate all on the priority list and Matt Hancock will break his pledge be “out of this pandemic” by spring.

The success of the vaccine’s rollout is vital for reducing the spread of the virus, minimising the time areas remain in economically damaging restrictions and for keeping schools open. The emergence of a variant Covid strain earlier this month means mass vaccination is now an urgent race against time. Astra Zeneca have committed to producing 2 million doses a week and ministers must move heaven and earth to get these life saving jabs rolled out straight away.

Labour is calling for the Government to move heaven and earth to double the target for the number of people receiving the vaccine each week through: 

  • The establishment of more mass vaccination centres and mobile vaccine units for hard to reach communities led by the NHS, in partnership with local authorities.
  • Training thousands more vaccinators to turbo charge the vaccination programme and cut bureaucracy to help retired NHS staff return to help administer vaccination.
  • Setting a target to have vaccinated all NHS and social care staff; to provide certainty to those working at the frontline of the crisis
  • Delivering the resources that GPs and pharmacists need to increase the number of people they can vaccinate including providing them with additional properly trained staff, and access to public buildings to set up local vaccination centres.
  • A national public health communication strategy to ensure the public are fully informed about the vaccine. This must tackle vaccine hesitancy and target communities with historically lower vaccination rates. Information on the vaccine must be available in accessible formats and other languages from the start of the programme.
  • An equal access plan to put the infrastructure in place to ensure that everyone, no matter where they live, can access the vaccine, targeting rural, deprived and BAME communities.

 

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary said:

 

“This is now a race against time and there isn’t a moment to lose. We need ministers to move heaven and earth to roll out vaccination starting with two million jabs a week to save lives and hit the government’s spring promise of easing restrictions.

 

“And its fiercely urgent we protect our health and care workers as well by ensuring all are vaccinated as soon as possible. Our NHS has gone above and beyond in 2020 but is exhausted and under intense pressure. Staff need support, help and security.

 

“We can’t limp into the next crucial period of our battle with coronavirus, the government must urgently provide the resources necessary to ensure the speedy and smooth deployment of a vaccine to save lives, keep businesses open and to reduce the pressure on the NHS.”