Vaccine prioritisation is “deeply flawed” – says public health leader

THE VACCINE prioritisation strategy is “deeply flawed” and has failed to take into account “mortality risk by place” – according to Blackburn’s health boss.

The JCVI has released the new prioritisation for phase two of the vaccine rollout, which is expected to begin in April, and will start with people aged 40 to 49 before moving on to younger age groups.

Director of Public Health for Blackburn with Darwen Council, Professor Dominic Harrison has claimed however that the strategy “effectively prioritises low risk areas” and “privileges the south over the north”.

He said: “Under 50s JCVI prioritisation strategy is deeply flawed.

“It has failed to take into account mortality risk by ‘place’.

“It mostly privileges the south over the north – and low mortality over high mortality areas.”

Blackburn has been hit extremely hard by Covid-19, as has much of Lancashire which has seen some form restrictions imposed, whether they be local or national, for most of last year due to high rates.

In Blackburn with Darwen, 417 deaths have been reported, with a further 1,082 deaths reported across the other five boroughs of East Lancashire.

He added: “I agree with simplicity and speed.

“I don’t agree with ignoring transmission or death risks by place in prioritisation.

“We need to vaccinate according to need- we could alter the vaccination distribution spreadsheet in 30 mins – no delay and maximise lives saved.”

On Friday, a major milestone was hit as more than half a million patients have been vaccinated in Lancashire and South Cumbria.

In Blackburn with Darwen, it is believed that 96 per cent, or 14,623 over 70’s have been vaccinated against the virus, with all the remaining boroughs of Pennine Lancashire having vaccinated at least 93 per cent of their over 70s.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock defended plans for the next stage of the UK vaccination programme by arguing on Friday it was the “fastest and simplest way to roll out the jabs”.

He said the view of the Government and its advisers was that “the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, is to make sure that we save the most lives”.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has advised that vaccination in order of age remains the quickest way to cut deaths, with age still a dominant risk factor for serious illness and death from Covid-19.

The Westmorland Gazette | North Lancs