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Think tank: Use walk-in centres, 24/7 services and new venues to ‘rapidly’ expand Covid vaccination programme

Think tank: Use walk-in centres, 24/7 services and new venues to ‘rapidly’ expand Covid vaccination programme
By Awil Mohamoud Reporter
7 January 2021

The Covid-19 vaccine rollout could be ‘rapidly’ accelerated by introducing 24/7 vaccination centres, walk-in services for spare doses, increasing the workforce, and using mobile venues, according to a UK think tank. 

The Adam Smith Institute (ASI) said in its latest report that the Government should set a target of six million doses per week – three times the current aim – if it wants to ‘rapidly speed up vaccinations, protect the vulnerable and end the pandemic’.

The UK could ‘lead the world in putting an end to the crisis’, it added, but urged this would take a ‘new ambitious approach’ – and suggested 22 ways of increasing the supply and distribution of the Covid vaccines. 

Increasing supply

The report suggested that vaccination sites – at times expected to deliver an 8am to 8pm service, seven days a week – should expand to become 24/7 services, with funding made available for overtime and night subsidies.

The Government should also allow ‘walk-in clinics’, which would enable patients to use up any spare doses – reducing waste, though this should be limited to 8am-8pm sites, it added.

In terms of the supply of the two available vaccines, ‘further clarification of delivery schedules and negotiation of increasingly rapid supplies’ is needed, the ASI report said. 

It also urged the Government to do more to speed up vaccine deliveries, help unblock any supply chain issues, and approve the Moderna vaccine immediately.

Boris Johnson, prime minister, has said it is a ‘realistic expectation’ that all people in the top four priority groups will have received their first Covid vaccine dose by mid-February.

More sites and staff

The Government recently announced a further 180 GP practice sites and 100 more hospitals were due to start administering Covid vaccinations this week, joining 730 sites already set up across the UK.

The report also recommended that a wider range of vaccination sites be used, including mobile vaccine centres – as has been done with flu jabs – especially for more rural areas, public buildings (such as schools, gyms and stadiums) and temporarily closed hospitality venues.

The Armed Forces – already brought in to support the NHS with planning – should also be used to help run the logistical vaccination effort, including to expand the number of sites, the ASI report said.

The report added that using pharmacies as vaccination centres could ‘significantly’ increase capacity – something NHS England has confirmed they will start doing from next week.

Currently furloughed staff, including those in hospitality, could also be used as paid volunteers, and either trained to administer vaccines or provide support with logistics, it said.

The think tank also suggested that ‘home injection kits’ could be made available for high-risk individuals to order online if regular distribution remains an issue despite all efforts.

‘The injection itself would then be supervised online over a video call, as well as patient wellbeing after the injection is completed,’ the report said. ‘Supervisors would have patient details and a fast-track line to dispatch an ambulance in any rare cases of an adverse reaction.’

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