Request to national health body to vaccinate all over-16s
Adult Wiganers could be in line to receive a Covid-19 jab sooner than previously expected.
Greater Manchester has asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to vaccinate all over-16s in Bolton and more widely across the city-region.
The move is a response to a concerning surge in Covid-19 cases in Bolton driven by the Indian variant which means the borough now has some of the highest figures in the country.
Wigan’s position on the border next to Bolton means that it is very likely the borough would be one of the areas where the extra vaccinations would be rolled out if the JCVI agrees.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the request had been made at his weekly press conference looking at the city-region’s position with Covid-19.
And Wigan Council director of public health Prof Kate Ardern also spoke of the advantages of flexibility in the distribution of jabs.
Mr Burnham said: “It is the Indian variant that is largely responsible for the increase we are seeing in Bolton and in response to that Greater Manchester has submitted a request to the JCVI for consideration of permission to vaccinate all over-16s in Bolton and more widely in Greater Manchester.
“That might help to mitigate the risks of spread in the communities most affected.
“We are requesting to be able to go more quickly down the age range.
“We have been saying for some time that there should be provision to surge vaccine supplies into areas where case rates have been highest.”
Prof Ardern said: “The strategic co-ordination group which oversees the response has made a number of requests to the Government and one of them is for more flexibility to target our vaccine supply.
“We are asking for a very targeted approach to communities with multi-generational households or where there has been high and enduring transmission of Covid.
“We will keep pressuring for that as we think it is important to utilise the vaccine to its maximum benefit.
“It’s not that we don’t think the priorities are important, we’ve absolutely been adhering to those in Wigan throughout the roll-out, but I think we have to be able to flex our plans in response to changing sets of circumstances, and the India variant does present a changed circumstance.
“It’s absolutely right to reflect that and ask for some flexibility if it allows us to respond to that.”
Mr Burnham said Greater Manchester’s request to the JCVI was one of a number of similar pleas for permission to show flexibility in the vaccine roll-out which have been sent by authorities in various parts of the country.
The elected mayor of the city-region also called on people to show some restraint as another level of Covid restrictions are rolled back on Monday.
Mr Burnham said: “While we support the roadmap as it has been set out by the Government we have to give a more cautious message than the one that is currently being given nationally.
“We would ask people to take note of the position we are in. There is a change on the ground in one borough at the moment but we are concerned that it could spread.
“We’re asking people to perhaps not take full advantage of all the new freedoms that will be made available to them next week. We ask them to continue to act carefully.”
The picture across the city-region now varies widely with Bolton above 150 cases per 100,000 residents and the others below 50.
The case rate across the North West for the seven-day period between May 1 and May 7 was 29.4 cases per 100,000 residents.
This was higher than the average for England of 21.8 cases per 100,000 people.
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