BMA welcomes start of vaccination programme: but clear public information and support for NHS needed

Media release from the BMA

Location: England
Last reviewed: 6 December 2020

Responding to news that 50 hospital hubs in England will start to deliver Covid vaccinations to people aged over 80, at-risk NHS staff and care home residents this week, BMA Chair of Council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“It’s great news that the most significant vaccination delivery programme of recent times will soon be underway and become a reality, and doctors across all healthcare settings stand ready to play their part.  As we work together to defeat this terrible virus, it’s right that people at highest risk are first in line to receive the vaccine.  It is now essential that effective and comprehensive public information is delivered to all our communities to ensure that those who need the vaccine most urgently come forward to receive it over the weeks and months ahead.  

“We also need the government to be crystal-clear about how this prioritisation will work; we have already seen mixed messaging about when care homes, high-risk patients in the community and NHS staff can expect to be vaccinated, and many will be disappointed that they will have to wait for several weeks longer than originally indicted by the Government.  In the first phase of the pandemic, significant numbers of healthcare workers became seriously ill and many lost their lives to the virus – and we need to prevent any more unnecessary deaths or enforced absences from work.

“It’s also vital that alongside providing the logistical and staffing resources hospitals and GPs need to deliver this vaccination campaign, urgent action is taken to ensure that the vast backlog of patients needing treatment for non-Covid conditions get the care they need.  With waiting lists now numbering in their millions, there is no room for complacency about what our hospitals and general practices can cope with.

“This is the beginning, not the end, of our nationwide effort to defeat this virus – and it will take several months before enough vaccinations have been delivered to make a return to life as we knew it possible.  To avoid any further increase in infections, and to protect our hard-pressed NHS, it’s vital that members of the public remain vigilant and continue to adhere to existing rules on hygiene, travel and social mixing.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.