JANET STREET-PORTER: I would drop everything and crawl to any location. So far, nought.
If you’re loaded or homeless, you’ve got more chance of getting a jab in the next couple of weeks than most pensioners (me included).
Travel agents are offering trips to Dubai by private jet for a jab – for £40,000 a pop.
And in Oldham, the council has decided to offer the vaccine to everyone who is homeless, regardless of age. So far, 3,700 people have taken up the offer. Are there really that many homeless people in Oldham? How do they check?
In theory there are strict guidelines about who should be vaccinated first, but in reality, GP’s and local councils are interpreting the rules differently – effectively making decisions that could cost someone who doesn’t get the vaccine their life.
The wait for a jab is already causing huge anguish and resentment, with Boris’ target of 200,000 a day only achieved yesterday – the day that the virus finally claimed over 100,000 lives.
At 74, I’m in Tier 4, with millions of more worthy citizens ahead in the queue. My phone is fully charged 24×7, with an alarm call each morning – even though I have no office to go to – just in case I get a text from the NHS offering a slot. I would drop everything and crawl to any location. So far, nought. In my area, just 27% – around one in four – of over 80’s – has been vaccinated, so there will be many more anxious days ahead for me and millions of others.
So will Britain’s biggest bluffer be able to deliver on his promise that 13.9 million of us- the vulnerable and everyone over 70 will get offered a jab by February 16th?
And in Oldham, the council has decided to offer the vaccine to everyone who is homeless, regardless of age. So far, 3,700 people have taken up the offer. Are there really that many homeless people in Oldham? How do they check? Pictured: Lee Ullha receives his jab at the shelter
I couldn’t be more thrilled that The Queen, Prince Phillip, Captain Tom and Joan Bakewell have now all had their jabs, but if past form is anything to go by, there’s every possibility that Feb 16 will come and go, another Tory Target that wasn’t acheivable for all sorts of unlikely reasons. This time will it be a shortage of clip boards for the inevitable forms each jab requires.
There are currently 21 million doses of the main three vaccines in the UK – more than enough to achieve the mid Febuary deadline – but the rollout out is proving sporadic and uneven. Some areas are streaking ahead, having completed the initial top category of the vulnerable and very elderly, with some GP’s complaining that further supplies of vaccine are being withheld meaning they can’t move on to the over 70’s.
In London, the Mayor complains that the programme is proceeding at a slower pace than in Yorkshire and the North East.
Having made a big noise about bringing in the army, Boris has finally acted sensibly, asking major pharmacies to help administer the jabs. Why didn’t he think of this earlier?
Most of us use local chemists for flu jabs, and it couldn’t be easier. So far, only six pharmacies can offer the vaccine – all large branches of the Boots and Superdrug chains. But there are also 11,500 high street pharmacies in Britain, many of which could easily comply with social distancing rules- if Boris and Hancock would cut through all the red tape and action the rollout. Instead, delays and dithering cause anxiety and distress.
Whitty and Co continue to warn that receiving a vaccination doesn’t mean a return to normal life, hugging, partying and snogging in the street. But it will allow us to visit the lonely, the relatives we haven’t seen for nearly a year. It marks the start of hope, the light at the end of a very long tunnel.
It would restore my confidence about travelling on public transport, eating out, shopping and visiting friends – all of which I miss very much.
But before I can get the jab, the very vulnerable, the over 80’s, and the over 75 year olds take precedence. Plus the ‘key workers’, whatever that means?
Stuart McNeill, founder of the Knightsbridge Circle (pictured), is completely unrepentant, claiming he is a ‘pioneer’ promoting a new form of luxury travel. His supplies of the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines come from India and the UAE – and he’s thinking of adding another destination – Marrakech, in Morocco.
Like most of Boris’ rules – like the one about ‘staying local’ for exercise, for instance – it is tantalisingly vague. Exactly what are the ‘key’ jobs? You can bet your life rule bending is rife.
Does it includes all hospital staff, even the ones frying chips in the canteen and collecting the bins? The pen-pushers and bean-counters? Does it mean the well-paid bosses of our privately owned care homes and their relatives? There have been stories of some care home executives receiving jabs before their workers. Why should the boss of an NHS Trust or an NHS Quango – and god knows, there are enough of them- receive a jab before every single nurse or doctor? Are MPs key workers?
Like everything in life, the combination of scarcity and anxiety will lead to queue jumping by the rich and well-connected.
A private travel club in London (with an annual fee of £25,000) is offering members flights on private jets to Dubai where they will receive the vaccine, stay in a luxury apartment for 21 days before receiving a booster jab, and fly home.
The cost is said to be in the region of £40,000. Stuart McNeill, founder of the Knightsbridge Circle, is completely unrepentant, claiming he is a ‘pioneer’ promoting a new form of luxury travel. His supplies of the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines come from India and the UAE – and he’s thinking of adding another destination – Marrakech, in Morocco.
What’s the morality of taking a vaccine that people desperately need and selling it to the highest bidder? Mr McNeill has no qualms, saying he’s not booked anyone under 65 on his trips.
In Harley Street, I’ll bet that some unscrupulous private doctors will already be secretly offering the jab to wealthy patients for thousands of pounds.
Meanwhile, in Oldham, no one was willing to comment on how offering the vaccine to homeless people might push pensioners and other physically and mentally vulnerable people further down the queue.
Boris has never really had a plan about how to deal with a virus that’s continuing to mututate. He operates in fire-fighting mode, with big promises and hollow Churchillian rhetoric.
The Prime Minister is also a rule-bender (last weekend’s bike ride, for starters) so it’s no wonder that mentality has infected the rest of us.
Don’t be surprised to discover that getting a covid jab could depend on who you know and what you earn.
Unless someone takes control to ensure these desperately-needed doses of vaccine are handed out fairly, uniformly and efficiently, there will be social unrest and endless recriminations.
We can’t trust a politician, so who?