Drive-through anti-Covid jab centres could vaccinate millions a week

Jabs to go! Drive-through anti-Covid injection centres could vaccinate millions a week after ‘stunning success’ of pilot projects

  • Drive-through vaccination trial saw trial 2,300 Covid jabs delivered in one day   
  • Dr Richard West said 6,000 jabs could be given at suffolk centre in one weekend 
  • NHS England said ‘the biggest factor’ in speed of roll out is ‘availability of supply’

The rapid success of drive-through vaccination centres could lead the UK out of lockdown before Boris Johnson’s roadmap suggests.  

A trial that delivered 2,300 Covid jabs in just one day at a car park near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was 360 per cent more than an equivalent clinic, The Mirror reports.

But whilst the system of issuing the vaccines continues to run smoothly, health bosses said that the scheme was unlikely to be scaled up to its full potential due to issues with supply.

Dr Richard West, a senior GP at Woolpit Health Centre, created the drive-through trial at his practice and believes up to 6,000 people could have been vaccinated in one weekend if the supply of jabs was reliable. 

A member of staff administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the public at Queen Margaret University Campus on February 10, 2021, in Musselburgh, Scotland

He is one of a handful of enterprising GPs who have started their own drive-in jab centres, however NHS chiefs have failed to back the initiative.

Despite the backing of health minister Jo Churchill, Dr West’s local MP, the centre has not been backed by the Department of Health and NHS England. 

Dr West said he could run drive-through jabbing sessions several times a week. But he can’t get enough vaccine.

He said: ‘We did one in the snow in February and haven’t done one since. I’ve had the support of local clinical commissioning group but not NHS England. We’d do another tomorrow if we could but can’t get the vaccine.’ 

Using drive-through clinics in each London borough four and half million people in the capital could be vaccinated in a month. This is based on seven day vaccinating and each London borough having at least one drive through service.

Across the country the figure could be double say some experts. 

Members of the vaccination team working at the drive-through Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Queen Margaret University Campus, Musselburgh

A member of staff administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a member of the public at Queen Margaret University Campus

GP surgeries can vaccinate an around 500 people a day on average, meaning a drive-through system is almost five times as quick. 

The news comes as Britain reported 121 new COVID deaths on Saturday, taking the number of people who have died within 28 days of a positive test result to 125,464, daily government figures showed.

A further 5,534 people have tested positive for the disease, down from 6,040 last Saturday. 

And yesterday the number of people who have received at least one vaccine dose rose to 23.684 million from 23.315 million the day before. 

Other drive-through vaccination centres are already running in Whitstable in Kent, and other locations in Hertfordshire, and Warwickshire.  

Patients are asked to have someone else from their household drive them to the appointment ‘wherever possible’ as they ‘will not be able to drive for 15 minutes after vaccination’.  

Scotland and Wales already have a mass drive-through vaccination framework, but no equivalent has been set up in England, The Mirror reports.

DE Richard Vautrey, chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee, backed the idea. He said: ‘Drive through clinics are a good idea. Some GPs have used them for flu jabs. We should be running them if we can.’ 

An NHS England spokesperson said: ‘The NHS has already administered more than 20 million jabs in just a few months, with vaccines being delivered at more than 1,500 sites across the country and 98 per cent of the country living within ten miles of a vaccination site. 

‘Although we will continue to open more convenient community vaccination centres as supply allows, it’s clear from our progress so far that the biggest factor in how quickly people can get a jab is the availability of supply.’ 

Other drive-through vaccination centres in England are running in Kent, and other locations in Hertfordshire, and Warwickshire. Pictured: Queen Margaret University Campus, Scotland

Despite this the vaccination programme has reportedly seen an acceleration as the roll-out quickly works through the next priority group – the over-50s – who are now expected to be offered a jab over the next week – three weeks ahead of the Government’s initial target.

According to the Telegraph, it comes as stocks of Covid vaccines are set to more than double.

And it means the over 40s can now be bought forward, with everyone in the group now set to be offered a jab by April 4, the paper adds.

Vaccination centres have already been instructed to recruit more staff to keep up with the jab supply surge, the paper reports. 

Meanwhile, the Times says the UK’s roll-out is set to be boosted by the arrival of jabs from Moderna, Janssen and Novavax.

The UK has ordered 17million Moderna jabs, 30million Janssen jabs and 60million Novavax jabs – all of which are over 80 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation.

So far, the vaccine roll-out has relied on the Oxford University-researched AstraZeneca jab, of which the Government has ordered 100million doses, and the Pfizer-Biontech jab, of which it has ordered 40million.

Research firm Infinity says the influx of new jabs means the UK could have every adult vaccinated by June 10, according to the Times.

The newspaper also reported that under 40s may be able to get their vaccination at any GP-led vaccination site in a bid to boost uptake.

Health service chiefs have written to vaccination co-ordinators telling them, it ‘may require alternative communication and delivery’. 

Dr West said the NHS had not yet started to scratch the service on rapid mass vaccination. He said: ‘We may have to do this annually and have to start vaccinating again in the Autumn if it proves that we will need to vaccinate each year against Covid-19,

He added: ‘Doing the vaccinations like this is safe. Patients are monitored for 15 minutes after their injection as a precaution. It is far more efficient than doing them at the surgery. 

NHS England is reported to be ‘considering learning’ from local pilots.

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