Covid Vaccine must not witness repeat of flu jab confusion – Liberal Democrats

The welcome news of the approval in the United Kingdom of the first coronavirus vaccine must not be overshadowed by a repeat of the confusion and administrative problems that marred the roll out of the autumn flu jab programme, according to local Liberal Democrats.

South Lanarkshire Council Liberal Democrat Group Leader Councillor Robert Brown has called for a proper partnership between the Scottish and UK Governments, the NHS and local Councils to make sure that the coronavirus vaccine programme is rolled out efficiently and controlled at a local level.

Robert Brown said:

“News of the growing availability of vaccines is fantastic but it would be awful if there were bottlenecks in either the distribution of the vaccine to local centres or the arrangements for vaccinating people. Here we are with a statement by the Scottish Health Minister this week that vaccination will start as early as 8th December for key workers and care homes from 14th December – but the practical details are still pretty sketchy.

It is not too much to say that the whole lifestyle of people, businesses, schools and communities in 2021 depends on getting this right. The various Governments have had months to prepare, knowing that a vaccine was coming down the line. It would be a total scandal if the long-awaited Covid vaccine witnessed a repeat of the difficulties that marred the flu jab programme.

The problem is that too frequently the Scottish Government makes grand announcements without having pinned down the practicalities at local level. The information about care home residents, patients with immune system issues, NHS front line staff and so forth is all held locally. The centres where the programme will be carried out are local too.

The rollout of the flu jab exposed major flaws in our delivery systems. Letters out late, appointments not filled, swamped and inaccessible helplines, people sent to out of the way places. You can only imagine how much more anxious people will be for the coronavirus cure.

Not only will these holes need to be plugged, swathes of new vaccination infrastructure will have to be built to cope with the scale of the rollout required but above all the roll out must be effective to deliver to local people and there must be a robust public information campaign and systems in which the public had confidence.

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