Covid-19: Additional vaccine clinics set up in Blackburn amid concerns over Indian variant

13 May 2021, 15:42 | Updated: 13 May 2021, 18:22

People aged 18 and over in Blackburn will be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine from next week
People aged 18 and over in Blackburn will be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine from next week. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

Additional coronavirus vaccine clinics are being set up in Blackburn amid concerns over the Indian variant but the jab will not be offered to all adults yet, the council has said.

The Lancashire town has the third highest rate of coronavirus cases in England, with 149 new cases in the seven days up to May 8 - a surge that has been linked to the variant of concern that originated in India.

Earlier on Thursday, Blackburn with Darwen Council said extra doses would be made available for all over-18s from next week.

But in a later statement, the Lancashire authority said additional vaccines would not be widely available to all adults.

A spokesman said: "Contrary to earlier social media and news reporting, vaccines at the clinics will not be widely available to over-18s.

"They will be available within current Government guidance, which is currently anyone over the age of 38, anyone over 18 with an underlying health condition or who lives with someone who has lowered immunity, health and social care staff and carers.

"Blackburn with Darwen Council and NHS partners have responded immediately to provide doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinics following yesterday's announcement on a rise in cases of Covid-19 linked to, in part, a new variant of concern, first identified in India, that may spread more easily."

In a joint statement on Wednesday, council leader Mohammed Khan CBE, chief executive Denise Park and director of public health Professor Dominic Harrison said: "Whilst the Prime Minister announced this week that we can progress to step three of the Government's road map as planned next week, we need everyone in Blackburn with Darwen to be extra vigilant and proceed with caution.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'ruling nothing out' amid worries about delay to roadmap

"The variant first identified in India is more transmissible than other variants, which means it is easily passed on from one person to another."

Downing Street said officials would not "rule anything out" when asked if the Government was considering surge vaccinations to accompany surge testing in areas with spikes of new variants, but said there were no plans to reintroduce the tiering system.

The rise in cases has been attributed to the India variant, which has also been detected in Bolton and Sefton in the North West, as well as in London.

Boris Johnson hinted that local restrictions may be needed if the variant gets out of control or is found to dodge the effects of the vaccine.

During a visit to a primary school in County Durham, he admitted the Government is "anxious" about the rise in case and is "ruling nothing out".

The PM said: "It is a variant of concern, we are anxious about it.

"At the moment there is a very wide range of scientific opinion about what could happen.

READ MORE: NHS England waiting list reaches record high

"We want to make sure we take all the prudential, cautious steps now that we could take, so there are meetings going on today to consider exactly what we need to do.

"There is a range of things we could do, we are ruling nothing out."

Scientists are keeping a close eye on the spread of the variant across the UK, with new figures from Public Health England (PHE) on Thursday expected to show a big rise in cases.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) is holding a meeting on Thursday to discuss the spread of the Indian variant, amid fears it could have an impact on the Government's road map out of lockdown.