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Blackburn health chiefs ‘stopped from vaccinating all over-18s’

Indian variant

Blackburn with Darwen’s public health director has told the BBC that he was stopped by Government officials from rolling out vaccines to all over-18s next week.

Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council had briefly announced that the measures would be introduced next week to go hand in hand with surge testing in the area, amid concerns about outbreaks of the Indian variant of the virus.

Professor Dominic Harrison told Breakfast on BBC Radio Lancashire: ‘I am furious. I cannot understand why [the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] or Department of Health and Social Care are stopping local directors of public health from taking the action they know will halt this surge of the Indian variant.’

Residents had already been urged by the council to be cautious after a rise in cases of Covid-19 after a number of cases of the Indian variant had been reported in the North West.

The European Medicines Agency has said there is promising evidence that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective against the Indian variant.

Earlier in the week Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham had called for all over-16s in the region to get a jab to curb rising cases.

It comes as the Covid vaccination national booking system was opened to people aged 38-39 on Thursday this week.

Note: A previous version of this article had reported that all over-18s in the area would be eligible for vaccines next week.