Long queues have formed in Bolton for another day as people rush to get vaccinated – with some residents saying they do not believe there has been much vaccine hesitancy in the area.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock voiced his frustration on Monday that some people were still not getting the coronavirus vaccine, amid fears of the spread of the Indian variant.
Mr Hancock said the majority of people admitted to hospital in Bolton, which has seen the biggest outbreak of the B1617.2 variant, had been eligible for the jab but had not taken it up.
Charlotte Holt, 49, was among those who turned up to try to get a vaccine at the town’s Essa Academy on Tuesday, alongside her two children, Olivia, 19, and James, 17, as her husband is shielding.
Asked if she thought the area was getting blamed for the spread of the Indian variant, she said: “Perhaps yes, there are fingers being pointed at certain areas, and it is spreading in those areas and I can’t see how it’s businesses or restaurants that are causing the problems because it’s spreading even though those have been closed, so it’s got to be something else that’s causing the spread.
“Personally, I would say that there is not a hesitancy because all the people I know would want it.”
Sabiha Umarji, who lives in the BL3 postcode, said she had not heard any negativity in the community over allegations of vaccine hesitancy.
She said: “I was a bit concerned there might be attacks, like there were with Chinese people, so I did warn my dad to be careful but so far we have not heard anything along those lines, thank god.”
“Everyone is quite positive, everyone wants to get one (a vaccine), everyone wants to get out of the pandemic,” she added.
Mrs Umarji said she was concerned about the Indian variant, adding: “I heard it’s more worrying and it is causing a lot more issues as opposed to the past variants like the Kent one.
“And, being an Asian community I am a bit concerned about that so I do want to get the protection.”
Jessica Sammon, 30, said after receiving her jab: “All my friends and family have had the vaccine or are getting the vaccine.
“There is a bit of finger-pointing, I think, which isn’t very nice because it’s a personal choice but I think it’s better being safe than sorry.”
A new vaccine centre was opened at Quebec Hall in Bolton on Tuesday. No appointments are needed but you must be registered with a Bolton GP.
Meanwhile, Pharmacy2U said it was opening extra vaccine sites in Blackburn this week where there has been a similar rise in cases of the Indian variant.