24-Hour Covid Vaccination Sites 'To Be Piloted In London By End Of January'

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the later hours could work better as younger age groups are offered the jab.

24-hours a day coronavirus vaccinations will be piloted in London hospitals by the end of January, according to vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi.

Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi said: “We are going to pilot the 24-hour vaccination, the NHS is going to pilot that in hospitals in London and we will look at how we expand that.”

When pressed for when the pilots will start, he said: “By the end of January, absolutely.”

But he said 8am-8pm vaccination “works much more conveniently for those who are over 80 and then as you move down the age groups it becomes much more convenient for people to go late at night and in the early hours”.

He later told BBC Breakfast that vaccine supply “remains challenging” and is the limiting factor in the rollout of coronavirus jabs.

We now have built a deployment infrastructure that can deploy as much vaccine as it comes through,” he said on Monday morning.

“And so it’s the vaccine supply – which remains lumpy, it remains challenging, you may have read over the weekend probably some of the challenges around Pfizer and of course Oxford/AstraZeneca – but I’m confident we can meet our target mid-Feb, (for) those top four cohorts.”

With regards to the easing of lockdown restrictions, he said it would not begin before early March.

“If we take the mid-February target, two weeks after that you get your protection, pretty much, for the Pfizer/BioNTech, three weeks for the Oxford/AstraZeneca, you are protected,” he said.

“One of the things we don’t know yet, and the deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam is on record as saying ‘look give me a couple of months and I’ll tell you’, is the impact of the vaccine on transmission rates ie on infecting people.

“So there are a number of caveats that stand in the way of us reopening the economy.

“It will be gradually, it will be probably through the tiered system but you’re looking at that sort of period, two to three weeks after the middle of February, after we’ve protected the top four cohorts.”

Last week prime minister Boris Johnson said the government would start offering vaccination appointments 24-hours a day seven days a week “as soon as we can”.

Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday, Johnson said more details about 24/7 vaccine centres would be set out by health secretary Matt Hancock “in due course”.

His statement followed earlier comments from Downing Street that there was no “clamour” from people to be vaccinated around the clock.

Zahawi’s comments come as the government announced people aged 70 and over and the clinically extremely vulnerable will begin receiving invitations for coronavirus vaccinations from Monday.

On Sunday, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said the target was for every adult in the UK to be offered a first dose of the vaccine by September.

More than 3.8 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a vaccine.


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