A mosque in Birmingham has started handing out vaccinations against the coronavirus today, fearing uptake is too low in BAME groups.
Another 60 pharmacy-run sites – including a movie theater – also opened their doors to boost the rollout, as ministers rush to meet their deadline for vaccinating the 14 million most vulnerable people by mid-February.
The expansion also came when Britain’s first 24/7 vaccination centers at hospitals in Birmingham and Nottinghamshire began offering injections as part of a pilot project.
It comes after a study found that 72 percent of black Britons were “unlikely or very unlikely” to get a coronavirus shot – compared to 82 percent of all Britons who said they would come to appointments for the vaccine.
Pakistani, Bengali and Eastern European groups also claimed they were less willing to take the Covid shot.
The government’s top scientists blamed “structural and institutional racism and discrimination.”
The expansion comes amid uncertainty over the speed of vaccine rollout in Britain, with ministers blaming ‘supply restrictions’ for a three-day blip that raised fears that the NHS drive had stalled.
But yesterday’s official figures raised hopes that the operation was still on track, as more than 346,000 jabs were distributed on Tuesday.
Boris Johnson insisted the UK was still on track to vaccinate 14 million vulnerable people in mid-February.
A mosque in Birmingham has begun offering coronavirus vaccinations today as fears among BAME groups are too low
A cinema in Aylesbury has also begun to deliver injections to the most vulnerable, as Britain rushes to meet its target of 14 million first doses by mid-February.
Pharmacists pictured in Birmingham’s Al Abbas Mosque, used as a vaccination center to accelerate rollout
Sheila Evans gets an infection from the coronavirus vaccine at the mosque today
Clive Evans is also pictured receiving his first dose of the vaccine in the mosque
Members of the audience sit on socially detached chairs in the waiting area before getting their injections. The government aims to vaccinate all the most vulnerable groups by mid-February
The article presented by SAGE contained the results of a survey that found 71.8 percent of black people said they were unlikely to get a Covid-19 vaccine if they got one.
THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PROVIDE ONLY 13.9 MILLION PEOPLE WITH THE VACCINE TO REACH ITS GOAL BY MID-FEBRUARY
Ministers today are faced with questions about the vaccination target as they can claim success with far fewer than 13.9 million people who have received injections.
Boris Johnson has set a goal to vaccinate the four highest-priority groups by February 15 and warns it will be “very difficult.”
But while the Prime Minister and other ministers have suggested that this means 13.9 million doses to be administered, that is in fact the number of people who will be ‘offered’ shots.
Government sources admit that not everyone will accept the invitation, and polls show that a fifth of the population could decline.
It raises the expectation that the target could technically be hit well before 13.9 million doses have been delivered – although it’s still possible the number of jabs will be reached by mid-February.
However, MPs warned that ‘under-utilization’ and then claiming to have achieved the goal ‘won’t wash’.
The vaccine rollout appeared to be back on track yesterday after an alarming delay, with figures showing 346,000 injections were given in the past 24 hours.
Johnson insisted the target was still on track, but warned that “ supply restrictions ” made the situation more difficult.
Matt Hancock said today that five million doses have now been given.
To deliver 13.9 million first doses by February 15, the government must now administer an average of more than 350,000 doses per day.
But that goal could be achieved with over 300,000 jabs a if the uptake is 75-80 percent.
Government insiders told MailOnline that the vaccinations are not mandatory and “no one expects to get 100 percent in any category.”
“Some people will refuse to get an injection,” they said. ‘We try to encourage people all the time to take up the offer.’
To meet the lockdown easing target, the government will need to use an average of more than 350,000 doses per day from now through February 15, with the previous bullish tone of officials toning down in recent days.
Pfizer stocks have been dented by a factory upgrade that will continue until next month. Sources say other factors are the ‘intermittent’ supply of supplies and difficulties in contacting the remaining over-80s and care homes.
MPs have also expressed frustration with the way supplies are distributed. In London – which has given out the fewest shots – the allocation is believed to be based on last season’s intake of the flu vaccine, which was relatively low.
Announcing the inclusion of Birmingham’s Al Abbas Mosque in its rollout today, health secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons that they were “ constantly opening new sites. ”
“Today, a cinema in Aylesbury, a mosque in Birmingham and a cricket club in Manchester have all come on board as part of 65 pharmacy-run sites across England participating in our vaccination program this week,” he said.
“This ongoing expansion will help us protect even more of the most vulnerable even faster.”
He added that NHS England would also publish vaccination figures by local region today.
The numbers are expected to reveal the UK vaccines’ postcode lottery, with 100 percent of all their over-80s vaccinated in some areas, while others – like Sandwich in Kent – are left behind.
Leyla Hannbeck, the chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, said today that rolling out the vaccine to pharmacies can help ensure it is adopted by BAME communities as well.
“When it comes to the BAME community, we have pharmacists in all communities who can help manage the vaccination to make sure the entire population receives it because we’re all in it together,” she said.
The scheme’s expansion comes barely a week after six pharmacies – including those from Boots and Superdrug – were called to assist the program.
Chemists turned down ministers for not involving them in the rollout initially, saying they were an “invisible army” of ready-to-use vaccinators.
The approval of the Oxford vaccine – which, like the flu vaccine, can be kept in a refrigerator – meant they could hand out “ thousands of injections a day ” to ramp up the national effort, they said.
Ms Hannbeck today called on the government to continue mobilizing pharmacies to help deliver the injections.
“In England alone, we have a network of 11,000 pharmacies,” she said.
“The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine could be done in the same way as the flu vaccine, as it can also be stored in pharmacy refrigerators.”
“ We put a record number of patients with the flu vaccine this year, ” she said, adding that they were willing to do the same with the coronavirus vaccine.
Malcolm Harrison, the CEO of the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), welcomed the opening of more pharmacy-run sites, including two of its members, and called on the NHS not to delay the opening of more of these sites are used.
“We welcome the addition of new community pharmacy locations to the Covid vaccine program,” he said.
However, the sites involved so far are the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of how the community pharmacy network in England could be mobilized to protect their local communities from Covid.
“We urge the NHS to make full use of the existing community pharmacy network as part of the vaccine program.”
A man in the photo at the mosque where they are rolling out vaccines against the coronavirus
Members of the public pictured in the waiting area before receiving their doses of the coronavirus vaccine in the mosque