Labour MP: “No sensible justification” for North West coronavirus vaccine cut

MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood Cat Smith is demanding an explanation for the decision to cut the North West’s vaccine supplies by a third by the second week of February.

The vaccine diversion was reported by the Health Service Journal to be a result of national jab shortages and to allow areas, including London and the South East, to catch up on their mass roll-out.

Responding to the decision, Cat Smith, who is shadow minister for young people and voter engagement, said: “Obviously decisions regarding the vaccine programme need to be taken on the basis of scientific evidence.

“Having not seen all the evidence available to those making this decision I would not wish to comment definitively, however instinctively this decision does concern me and I have seen no sensible justification for it.

“I will therefore be writing to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care demanding a full explanation. “

In the North West, just over 310,000 jabs were administered in the week ending 24th January and the number of doses available this week is similar.

However, the vaccine supply is set to reduce in the first week of February and will fall to around 200,000 doses by the second week.

Mrs Butterworth, 72, from Clitheroe says she’s “deeply concerned” that the decision will prevent her from receiving her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Classed as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable‘, she is worried that the decision could further “prevent me from seeing my family that I haven’t seen since March” adding that “shielding is a lonely place”.

Chief Executive Officer at Lancashire County Council, Angie Ridgwell, warned that the region must not become “a victim of our own successes”.

“Lancashire has significant health inequalities compared to other areas and these have been exacerbated by Covid. Getting the vaccine out quickly and effectively to those who need it most is the best way for us to ensure that our county can recover from this dreadful pandemic. It must not be jeopardised because other areas have underperformed.”

The government had said vaccines would be distributed “equitably” across England.

Dr Arif Rajpura, Director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, also condemned the decision, highlighting that Blackpool’s Winter Gardens vaccine centre is now ready to move to a 24-hour service.

He said: “The north of England has suffered disproportionately throughout this pandemic and it therefore seems unjust for the Government to take a decision that flies in the face of the need to tackle health inequalities.”

Blackpool Councillor Michele Scott, Conservative, added: “This decision is likely to have a detrimental impact on residents in Blackpool, therefore I am not in agreement with the reduction in supply of the vaccine.”