Call for Covid vaccination centre to open in Stone

A community leader has called for a coronavirus vaccination centre to be opened in Stone – to encourage more teenagers and young adults to get the jab.

Currently there is no community vaccination site in the town, meaning residents need to travel several miles to Stafford for their Covid jab.

Speaking at a recent full Staffordshire County Council meeting, where the current vaccination rate for under 30s was revealed, Stone councillor Jill Hood raised the lack of local facilities. She also highlighted the county council’s response last summer to a Covid-19 outbreak linked to town centre pub The Crown and Anchor, when hundreds of people got tested for the virus in a facility set up on Crown Street car park

Councillor Hood said: “We have a population of 20,000 people and we have no vaccination centre.

“Travelling eight miles is probably no big deal to us, but to teenagers and young people that’s a heck of an ask. A lot of them don’t have transport and teenagers mostly have an attitude they are invincible, so why should they put themselves out?

“I would like to ask if we could have a look at having a vaccination centre. When we had the dreadful affair with over 400 people in a pub we immediately jumped into action and by the Monday we had a testing centre on one of our large car parks.

“I can’t see why we can’t have a vaccination centre in Stone.”

Council leader Alan White responded: “I have asked Councillor McMahon [cabinet support member for public health and integrated care] and Councillor Jessel [cabinet member for health and care] to write to Dr Hannigan [clinical lead for the vaccination programme in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent] to pick up your point about vaccination centres in Stone.

“We hopefully will have an answer to that and hopefully Councillor Jessel and Councillor McMahon will get back to you with that fairly shortly.”

Councillor McMahon told the meeting that 40 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds in Staffordshire had been fully vaccinated and “north of 60 per cent” had received at least one dose.

“It is the case that it is a bit slower than previous cohorts, but I think we are reaching the stage now where the elderly and vulnerable got it to save their lives and the young get it to get their lives back. If you think of the travel restrictions that might be imposed on people who have not been vaccinated, going to nightclubs and stuff like that, I’m confident that we will get there.

“It’s also the case that we can use what we did for those who were reticent, and that was get people they trust to speak to them. That is working and I think we can do the same for those youngsters who are somewhat reticent.”

It comes as England's Covid-19 Vaccination Programme hit another major milestone by delivering 70 million doses of the coronavirus jab. Since offering the first dose anywhere in the world outside clinical trials in December, the NHS has averaged almost 10 million doses given each month.

As the vaccination drive continues, more than 39 million people have now had at least one dose – around nine in 10 of the adult population including two thirds of those aged 18 to 29 years old. And well over 30 million people are now fully vaccinated after receiving both doses.

Health leaders are continuing to urge anyone yet to get their jab, particularly young people, to come forward and take up the offer to protect themselves, their friends and family.

Over 600,000 people were jabbed last weekend as part of the NHS ‘Grab a jab’ campaign.

GP, NHS medical director for primary care, and deputy senior responsible officer for the vaccine programme, Dr Nikki Kanani, said: “The NHS has delivered 70 million doses across England in just over seven months, giving protection against coronavirus to more than 39 million people and saving thousands of lives from this deadly disease.

“This milestone could not have been achieved without the tireless efforts of NHS staff and volunteers up and down the country, working day in and day out to deliver the biggest vaccination drive in health service history.

“Although almost seven in 10 adults are now fully vaccinated, as we see a rise in covid cases in the community once again, there has never been a more important time to get yourself protected: it remains the best way to protect yourself, your friends and your family, so particularly young people who are yet to come forward, this is the single most important thing you can do this weekend.”

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