Labour leader backing our jabs campaign

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Thousands of pharmacies must be used to help deliver round-the-clock coronavirus vaccinations by the end of next month, Sir Keir Starmer has urged.

The Labour leader has backed the campaign launched by the Wigan Post and Wigan Observer and their sister titles across the country and said the Government needs to “match the nation’s ambition” with a 24/7 rollout of jabs.

He has called on ministers to deploy England’s 11,500 community pharmacies to guarantee vaccines can be delivered on every high street as we launch a petition urging their services to be used in the mass vaccination roll-out.

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Sir Keir has also urged the Government to increase capacity to four million vaccinations a week by the end of February.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir StarmerLabour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer

Downing Street has previously said there is no clamour for a 24/7 vaccination model, and ministers have said they are considering what further role community pharmacies can play.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that 200 community pharmacies are coming on stream for vaccinations “very shortly”.

Sir Keir said: “The whole country wants this rollout to succeed. We were the first to get the vaccine and if we get this right and pull together, I know we can be the first country to roll it out successfully.

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“To do that, the Government needs to match the nation’s ambition with a 24/7 rollout which harnesses all the expertise and dedication our country has to offer.

JPIMedia's campaign wants pharmacies to be allowed to give Covid-19 jabsJPIMedia's campaign wants pharmacies to be allowed to give Covid-19 jabs
JPIMedia's campaign wants pharmacies to be allowed to give Covid-19 jabs

“Every high street has a pharmacy and I want to see every possible pharmacy deployed to help.

“Labour will play our part. Labour councils are already stepping up, supporting their communities and making generous offers of support to the Government.

“Across those communities, pharmacists stand ready to play their part too. Let’s use them, and let’s vaccinate Britain.”

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Boris Johnson has said avoiding “any wastage as all” is behind the decision to not expand the coronavirus vaccine roll out to more community pharmacies at this stage.

Asked by Labour MP for Hull East Karl Turner during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) why more pharmacists were not being used in the programme, Mr Johnson said they would be more vital in the next stage.

Mr Turner highlighted our campaign and said many of the country’s 11,000 community pharmacies stand ready, willing, and able to deliver desperately needed Covid vaccines.

He said: “Yet his Government has seemingly shunned an army of fully trained, experienced, and registered technicians.”

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But Mr Johnson said that while pharmacies do “an amazing job”, the government must ensure that doses get the places where they’re going to be distributed most effectively, the fastest.

“We need at this stage to avoid any wastage at all, that’s why we’re concentrating on the 233 hospitals, 50 mass vaccination sites, 200 pharmacies already, and we will ramp that up.

“And it will be particularly important as we come into the phase where we need to reach people who are harder to reach, in local communities. And there local pharmacies will play a vital role.”

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