Doctors, MPs and care chiefs have warned the Government that its vaccine programme could turn into a ‘shambles like the PPE fiasco’ if current issues with the rollout are not fixed.
Hundreds of GP surgeries and hospitals are still waiting to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine, while doctors warn they are having to cancel jab appointments for the elderly due to the hold-up.
Meanwhile, only seven areas of England have so far received the vaccine, meaning just 3,000 of the country’s 15,000 care homes can currently access the jab.
Yesterday MPs urged ministers not to repeat the PPE ‘shambles’, according to the Sunday Mirror, while the British Medical Association told the paper that distribution issues ‘must be resolved as a matter of urgency’.
Doctors, MPs and care chiefs have warned the Government that its vaccine (pictured: library image) programme could turn into a ‘shambles like the PPE fiasco’ if current issues with the rollout are not fixed
Hundreds of GP surgeries and hospitals are still waiting to receive doses of the Pfizer vaccine (pictured), while doctors warn they are having to cancel jab appointments for the elderly due to the hold-up
The warning comes amid growing concern that some older and vulnerable people in the areas where the jabs have so far been rolled-out are not taking up the Pfizer vaccine.
At one health centre in South London, The Mail on Sunday learned that 75 doses of the vaccine were left over as uptake had been so low.
However there is a flash of hope that Britain could be free of tight Covid restrictions by the end of February.
Ministers have now pinpointed the 15 million people who would need vaccinations to end the cycles of crippling lockdowns.
With the ‘game-changing’ Oxford jab expected to be approved within days, the Government hopes that enough doses will soon be available to inoculate those most vulnerable to within weeks.
Last night the Government came under fire from experts who warned about the speed of the vaccine roll-out.
So far, as of Christmas Eve, 616,933 people in the UK had been given their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
But, according to the Sunday Mirror, around half of England’s 135 trusts are still waiting for the jab, along with hundreds of surgeries.
Meanwhile, in one area of Warwickshire, where 3,500 over 80s are on the list for vaccinations, only 975 vaccines were delivered last week, the paper reports.
Regional chair of the BMA, Dr Gary Marlowe, hit out at the Government, saying it does ‘not seem to be world-beating at logistics’.
The Government has also come under fire from care chiefs, who have accused them of ‘failing to make homes a safe haven’.
Meanwhile, concerns are growing that some older and vulnerable people are not taking up the Pfizer vaccine.
In one health centre in South London, managers were left scrambling to find other patients to vaccinate and even offered a jab to healthy volunteers working there.
The Pfizer vaccine must be used within five days of being thawed or it offers no protection. Experts suggested that elderly people may be struggling with transport or are nervous about venturing outdoors.
Caroline Abrahams at Age UK, said: ‘Simply getting to and from hospital is a huge challenge for a lot of older people.’
The Pfizer vaccine must be used within five days of being thawed or it offers no protection
But an NHS spokesman insisted: ‘Uptake has been strong so far.’
The fears follow reports that care home residents have yet to receive the vaccine in large numbers despite being classed as high priority.
The Times reported Whitehall figures which suggested people in care only accounted for 0.3 per cent of the first 613,000 people who have received the jab.
Today a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), vaccines have been administered to care home residents, those aged 80 and over and health and social care staff through over 500 vaccination sites across the UK.
‘The vaccine roll out in care homes in England began on Wednesday 16 December, with hundreds of residents vaccinated across care homes in Slough, Aintree, Herne Bay, Thanet, Chalfont St Peter, Droitwich and Cheltenham, as well as Chelsea Pensioners.
‘We are working hard to vaccinate all care home residents and workers as quickly and safely as possible.’
It comes as it is hoped Britain could be free of tight Covid restrictions by the end of February, after Ministers pinpointed the 15 million people who would need vaccinations to end the cycles of crippling lockdowns.
With the ‘game-changing’ Oxford jab expected to be approved within days, the Government hopes that enough doses will soon be available to inoculate those most vulnerable to coronavirus within weeks.
Sports stadiums and conference centres would be comandeered to help the effort, with ministers planning to have 2million jab administered within a fortnight.
Writing in today’s Mail on Sunday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak says the Covid breakthroughs – combined with the newly minted post-Brexit trade deal with the EU – signalled an optimistic new era for the UK.
Hailing the ‘early roll-out of vaccines and the incredible work of our scientists and NHS‘, Mr Sunak pledges that next year will be the first in a ‘new era of global Britain’. He also hopes to consign the rancour of the Brexit feuds to history, writing: ‘In 2021 we won’t be Remainers or Leavers – only believers in Britain.’
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency could authorise the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as early as New Year’s Eve.
Rishi Sunak during a visit to Imperial Clinic Research Facility at Hammersmith Hospital in west London
Britain has an advance order for 100 million doses of this jab, to join a further 40 million doses of the approved Pfizer vaccine which are already being rolled out. Boris Johnson said last week that 800,000 vaccinations had been administered so far.
Government sources say that between 12 million and 15 million people have been identified as likely to require hospital treatment if they contract coronavirus, or be at risk of dying from it. Once this group has received the vaccine – which some officials hope could be achieved by the end of February – then the NHS would no longer be at risk of being overwhelmed if the virus spread through the greater population. That would remove the main argument for shutting the economy at a stroke.
A source said: ‘The path to liberation is finally becoming clear.’