Sir Keir Starmer backs our 'A Shot In The Arm' campaign
Thousands of pharmacies across the country should be used to deliver the coronavirus vaccine, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged, as he said the jab should be available 24/7.
Following the launch of our 'A Shot In The Arm' campaign this week calling on the Government to utilise 11,500 community pharmacies to get the vaccination into people’s arms, Sir Keir echoed the demand.
Sir Keir will say the Government needs to “match the nation’s ambition” with a 24/7 rollout of jabs.
And has called on ministers to deploy more of England’s community pharmacies past the initial 200 to guarantee vaccines can be delivered on every high street.
Click here to sign our ‘A Shot In The Arm’ campaign petition
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week confirmed in Parliament that the drive to get jabs in arms would move to 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as soon as possible.
During Prime Minister’s Questions Mr Johnson said the process of protecting people from coronavirus is already going “exceptionally fast” but “at the moment the limit is on supply” of the vaccine.
“We will be going to 24/7 as soon as we can,” he told MPs, despite Downing Street on Monday saying there was no clamour for such a model.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out further details “in due course”, Mr Johnson said.
But earlier in the day, Mr Hancock questioned whether there would be demand for a round-the-clock vaccination operation.
He said the NHS was “absolutely up for doing that” but “most people want to get vaccinated in the daytime, and also most people who are doing the vaccinations want to give them in the daytime, but there may be circumstances in which that would help”.
Sir Keir has also urged the Government to increase capacity to four million vaccinations a week by the end of February.
The NHS said six pharmacies will begin delivering the coronavirus vaccine from today, with appointments available at a total of 70 from next week, and 200 by the end of the month.
But we have called for all of the country’s 11,500 chemists to be given the chance to administer the jab.The NHS said only stores capable of delivering large volumes while allowing for social distancing are initially being selected to give the best geographical spread.
And ministers have insisted that smaller sites will be utilised better in the second phase of the drive, when the majority of vulnerable people have been reached.
But Sir Keir said: “The whole country wants this rollout to succeed. We were the first to get the vaccine and if we get this right and pull together, I know we can be the first country to roll it out successfully.
“To do that, the Government needs to match the nation’s ambition with a 24/7 rollout which harnesses all the expertise and dedication our country has to offer.
“Every high street has a pharmacy and I want to see every possible pharmacy deployed to help.
“Labour will play our part. Labour councils are already stepping up, supporting their communities and making generous offers of support to the Government.
“Across those communities, pharmacists stand ready to play their part too. Let’s use them, and let’s vaccinate Britain.”