Thousands back News's pharmacy vaccination plea as Covid infections in Portsmouth surge

THOUSANDS of people have backed a petition urging the government to mobilise the nation’s army of high street chemists to join the fight against the coronavirus.

By Tom Cotterill
Friday, 15th January 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 8:39 am
Fareham Community Hospital is a vaccination hub from 15 December 2020

Pictured:A patient receiving a vaccination at Fareham Community Hospital 
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Fareham Community Hospital is a vaccination hub from 15 December 2020 Pictured:A patient receiving a vaccination at Fareham Community Hospital Picture: Habibur Rahman

More than 3,100 people have joined The News’s Shot In The Arm campaign, demanding Boris Johnson recruits pharmacies to dish out the Covid-19 vaccine.

The goal of the drive, which is being supported by sister papers of The News nationwide, is to make sure everyone has access to the life-saving jabs within 10 minutes of their homes.

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Downing Street yesterday announced that six pharmacies across the UK had joined a pilot scheme to help pump out the vaccine into communities.

Whitehall officials hope to ramp this up to include 200 chemists in the coming weeks.

And while the pledge has been welcomed, campaigners are demanding it goes further and that the government commits to involving all 11,500 pharmacies.

Portsmouth South Stephen Morgan is now lobbying the vaccine deployment minister, Nadhim Zahawi, calling on him to ramp up deployment of the jabs.

Speaking to The News last night after backing the Shot In The Arm campaign, the Labour shadow minister said: ‘We need to ensure that it is possible to get vaccinated round the clock and round the corner. That means transforming the role of our community pharmacists into actually delivering the vaccines.

‘I welcome The News’s important “Shot in the Arm” campaign. Everyone can play their part in these efforts by signing the petition.

‘I’ll continue to do all I can to urge the government to deliver on this not only for the people of Portsmouth, but for our country.’

More than 1,500 readers of The News have so far had their say on Facebook about the campaign.

Joy Simpson backed pharmacies being used to vaccinate people. She added: ‘I can get my flu jab there so yes – why not! The sooner as many people as possible are vaccinated the better.’

However, others backed a different idea. Daniel Sidaway wrote: ‘I think there should be drive through vaccination centres. People are queuing outside places giving the vaccine, which will help the virus to spread.’

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said the government’s mass vaccination plan included pharmacies and insisted that as more doses became available, that more chemists would get involved in the effort.

The former health minister added: ‘I know everyone is desperate to get the vaccine and get back to normal. The government is deploying it as swiftly and safely as possible, the biggest vaccine programme in the history of the NHS.

‘As more vaccines come through more hubs will come on stream, nobody in the country should live more than 10 miles from one. ‘

The plea came as Britain recorded the highest weekly jump in coronavirus infections since May.

A total of 388,037 people tested positive for Covid-19 at least once in the week to January 6, according to latest test and trace figures – a spike of 21 per cent compared to the week before.

In Portsmouth, 1,403 new infection have been recorded over the past seven days, bringing the total number of positive cases in the city since March to 9,995.

Yesterday, Portsmouth City Council said it was estimated more than 75 per cent of new coronavirus infections in Portsmouth were due to the new variant of Covid-19, which is more infectious.

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