‘Long way to go’ in Bolton jabs drive as town battles Indian variant

More residents are coming forward to receive vaccinations in Bolton but there is still a “long way to go”, the doctor leading its rollout said as the town battles to halt the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19.

Dr Helen Wall insisted officials had had a “great week” in driving increased take up of vaccines but said further effort needed to be made to get into the heart of the town’s diverse communities.

She told BBC Breakfast: “Efforts are continuing at large in Bolton. We have had a great week in terms of the numbers of extra people that we have managed to vaccinate, but we have got a long way to go.

Coronavirus – Tue May 18, 2021
People queuing for Covid vaccinations at the ESSA academy in Bolton (Danny Lawson/PA)

“We are really just focusing now on expanding our vaccination programme to other areas and also encouraging the second dose people to come forward.

“We are also trying to provide that extra capacity for that to happen.”

She said that walk-in vaccination services in the heart of communities have proved useful, with almost 12,000 vaccines done at one site.

Almost 2,000 vaccinations have been carried out at a newly-opened site in Runworth since Tuesday, which Dr Wall described as “a slower rate but it is starting to pick up there”.

Coronavirus – Tue May 18, 2021
The mobile Covid vaccination centre at the ESSA academy in Bolton (Danny Lawson/PA)

Dr Wall described the region as having diverse communities and that the areas which have been really hit by the virus in the past weeks are those which have populations in their 30s and 40s.

She told the programme: “It is really important that we engage with those young people and encourage them to come forward for vaccination.

“I think that is happening now and we are making some headway, but we really have to provide not just a vaccination or a testing site, we really have to get into those communities.”

This could involve contacting faith leaders and community groups, knocking on doors and trying to build back trust and communication, she added.