Published: 24th January 2021
Vaccinated people may still transmit COVID-19, warns England's chief medic
His warning comes as the UK registered another high daily death toll from the virus of 1,348 this weekend, taking the country's total to 97,329
One of England's leading medical officers on Sunday urged the public to continue to follow the strict lockdown rules because any vaccine-related immunity from COVID-19 takes at least three weeks to kick in.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, also warned that there is no clear evidence yet to show that vaccinated people cannot transmit the deadly virus on to others. "Regardless of whether someone has had their vaccination or not, it is vital that everyone follows the national restrictions and public health advice, as protection takes up to three weeks to kick in and we don't yet know the impact of vaccines on transmission," said Van-Tam.
His warning comes as the UK registered another high daily death toll from the virus of 1,348 this weekend, taking the country's total to 97,329. However, he pointed to an additional 32 vaccination sites coming on stream to add to the thousands of venues where the National Health Service (NHS) has been delivering 140 jabs a minute, taking the vaccinated total to over 5.8 million.
"The vaccine is rightly something to celebrate let's stay patient, stay at home and support the NHS as it continues to roll out the vaccine," he said. A Living Museum where the BBC filmed a hit drama series Peaky Blinders' based on the notorious Birmingham gang in the 1920s is among the new vaccine sites. A former IKEA store at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford, London, the Francis Crick Institute, which is also in the UK capital, the Nightingale Hospital in Sunderland and the Blackpool Winter Gardens will also be new vaccination centres.
The latest openings mean there will be a network of almost 50 across the country, adding to options alongside hospitals, pharmacies and general practice (GP) surgeries. "Through the vaccines delivery plan, we have made outstanding progress in vaccinating our NHS and care staff and the most vulnerable people in society," said UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
"We must not drop our guard. While the vaccine can prevent severe disease, we do not know if it stops you from passing on the virus to others, and it takes time to develop immunity after a jab, so for now everyone must continue to stay at home to help bring down infections and protect the NHS," he said.
The NHS said the new vaccine centres will each be capable of delivering thousands of jabs each week, scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies and demand. People eligible in the priority criteria of over-80s, followed by over-70s, care home workers and staff as well as frontline workers, are being invited when it is their turn and people are being urged not to just turn up.
"These new centres provide another option for people invited for their jabs, alongside the fantastic work of local GPs," said Professor Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director. Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi added:
As of next week there will be almost 50 vaccination centres, more than 250 hospitals hubs and over 1,000 local vaccination service sites, run by GPs and pharmacies right across the country.
This will enable us to vaccinate as many people as possible in the weeks and months to come and I encourage anyone who has been invited for a free vaccine to come forward and get a jab.
The NHS said its new Vaccination Centres will kick off by jabbing mainly health and social care staff from Monday before opening their doors to more patients on Tuesday.