'Local health teams have been emasculated', Professor tells LBC.

14 May 2021, 17:47

By Tim Dodd

Public Health Expert Professor John Ashton says the Government needs to change tack to vaccinate young people in areas affected by a surge in the Indian Covid variant.

The conversation comes as additional coronavirus vaccine clinics are being set up in Blackburn amid concerns over the Indian variant.

Speaking to Andrew Castle, he said: "I've been calling for the last two months for us to change tack on this. The number of deaths nationally is very low now, but the Government and the JCVI has stuck rigidly to the idea of working down through the age groups.

"The issue is to stop the virus circulating during the summer months like it did last summer, and then when it exploded again when we came to the autumn.

"I think we should be using the vaccine as an important tool to control the spread now. I don't understand why the Government has stopped Blackburn from using vaccination as a tool in this way."

Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council had requested to 'surge vaccinate' but their request was refused by the UK Government.

"People who are out and about, the youngsters particularly, bar workers, restaurant workers, bus drivers, taxi drivers - these are the ones who are now going to be at risk of having the virus and spreading it, and keeping it circulating during the summer," Prof. Ashton said.

"And as a result of that it may well mutate and produce something nastier."

Andrew then asked whether vaccines should be given door to door.

Prof. Ashton said that door to door public health work is 200 years old and is the "starting point for any approach":

"The actions are being decided centrally in London and the local public health teams have been emasculated and are unable to use their local knowledge, local experience and local networks to really target the interventions.

"I don't understand these people who are so academic but seem to lack practical nous."

READ MORE: Vaccine minister tells LBC all four tests must be met for June 21 lockdown easing

Vaccination in Blackburn is currently available to 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.