Pulse featured on the Government’s live Covid briefing for the third time on Friday (15 January). Here is the transcription of the conversation between editor Jaimie Kaffash and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, and chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance:
JK: ‘Something you touched on earlier – we’ve been hearing plenty of reports about deliveries to GP centres being delayed and cancelled, which has led to GPs having to cancel appointments for their elderly and most vulnerable patients, obviously causing quite a bit of distress.
‘So can I firstly ask what you’re doing to smooth this process and secondly can I ask what actions you’re taking to ensure that individual GP practices can start administering the vaccine to their own patients, the patients they know best?’
BJ: ‘Thanks very much, Jaimie – I think the crucial thing is obviously that everybody gets down to their vaccination centre, to the hospital, to the primary care network, the local pharmacy… wherever the vaccination is being offered, when they get the message to come for your vaccine.
‘It’s one of the things… people should go.
‘I do think that it’s also very important that when we have the problem of some groups or some people not getting the message, perhaps being a bit reluctant to go for one reason or another, that we all work to make it clear that this is great thing to do, and local councils, I believe, and public heath directors in local councils will know where to find people who may be hard to reach, and I believe they can be of massive, massive help.
‘So what we’ve got is an integrated system where if people don’t come and we’re not getting people getting to the vaccination centres in the way that we want, then there are other ways of reaching out to them and ensuring that they get the jabs that they need. We’ve got the army, we’ve got pharmacies, we’ve got local councils and we’ve got the NHS. But the crucial thing is for people to go down and get the vaccine if they’re offered one.’
CW: ‘Can I just add one thing to my colleagues in general practice, which is a massive thank you. They’ve put up with enormous amounts of strain over the whole of the pandemic, and they’ve now stood up the vaccination on top of everything else that they’re doing.
‘So I think we should be enormously grateful for what they have done, including some quite rapid turns of policy when actually we’ve had to do that, and people have been very understanding of this.
‘So I just want to thank my colleagues enormously.’
BJ: ‘I would totally to echo that and the GPs are doing an unbelievable job. Some of them are doing as many vaccinations as a whole hospital in GP surgeries – absolutely incredible, and as Chris has just said, they executed the change to the delayed second jab policy very, very well and that’s more or less more or less totally transformed. So the numbers are good today.
‘There will be bumpy days ahead – it will continue to be, you know, up and down as we roll out this vaccine. But I just want everyone to know that we’re doing absolute everything we can – throwing everything at it, at the vaccination campaign. And in the meantime, as we race against time, it is absolutely vital that people follow the guidance, stay at home, protect the NHS.’