Boris Johnson says Covid vaccines will be offered 24/7 'as soon as we can'

13 January 2021, 12:38 | Updated: 13 January 2021, 12:53

By Maddie Goodfellow

Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus vaccine programme will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week "as soon as we can".

Responding to a question from Labour leader Keir Starmer during Prime Minister's Questions, the PM said the Health Secretary will be setting out plans "in due course".

Speaking to the House, Sir Keir said: "I welcome the news that has come out this morning about piloting 24 hour vaccine centres. I anticipate there is going to be huge clamour for this.

"So can the Prime Minister tell us, when will the centres be available to the public, because I understand they are not at the moment, and when will they be rolled out across the country?"

Mr Johnson replied: "I can tell Sir Keir that we'll be going to 24/7 as soon as we can and Matt Hancock will be setting out more about that in due course.

"As he rightly says, at the moment the limit is on supply. We have a huge network, 233 hospitals, a thousand GP surgeries, 200 pharmacies and 50 mass vaccination centres."

His comments come after Number 10 confirmed that it is preparing to trial 24/7 jabs to ramp up the scheme and get more people protected.

Ministers said today they would finally trial round-the-clock coronavirus vaccinations following pressure pressure to adopt a 24/7 roll-out and speed up the scheme. 

A senior Government source told the Daily Mail that Number 10 is considering a pilot where vaccinations are offered for longer hours to gauge whether there is enough demand to keep jab hubs open through the night. 

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On Wednesday, Matt Hancock said on the topic of 24 hour vaccinations: "We're absolutely up for doing that if it helps to speed up the vaccination programme.

"I can't see that being the major factor, because most people want to get vaccinated in the daytime, and also most people who are doing the vaccinations want to give them in the daytime, but there may be circumstances in which that would help.

"We're absolutely up for that."

Read more: Jonathan Van-Tam tells LBC he is 'comfortable' with Covid vaccine second dose delay

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Speaking to LBC, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam said that people are likely to need regular coronavirus vaccines in the same way as the flu jab.

When asked by Nick Ferrari whether a similar approach to flu jabs would be needed for Covid-19 vaccines, Professor Van-Tam said: "You're absolutely right."

Speaking during AskJVT, Prof Van-Tam said he "can't say whether [the vaccine will be needed] every year yet" but conceded he did not think "we will ever eradicate” the virus.

He added: “What I think we will do over time is to make it largely vaccine preventable in the same way that flu is and be able to live with it safely.”

England's deputy CMO said the virus will “change anyway over time” and therefore "we may need to reformulate these vaccines periodically”.

“This is a normal situation... for winter flu vaccines where we have to change the strain every year to match what we think is going to be circulating in the winter,” he said.