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Vaccine centre for Medway Towns confirmed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during PMQs after question from Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti


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The Prime Minister has confirmed the government is working on opening a mass Covid vaccination site for the Medway Towns.

Responding to a question from Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti at Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson said the government is looking to set up a site "near him".

Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti questioned the Prime Minister in the Commons

Mr Johnson also said 127,000 vaccinations had now taken place across Kent and Medway.

Mr Chishti, who spoke in person in the House of Commons chamber, asked for an assurance about whether Medway would receive a mass vaccination centre.

The Prime Minister said: "I share my honourable friend's sense of frustration about the pace of the vaccine roll out in spite of the fact we have the fastest in Europe.

"It is entirely right a constituency MP should want too see more to be done as fast as possible.

"We're certainly looking at a large-scale vaccination near him."

Boris Johnson confirms Medway will be getting a mass vaccine centre following a question from Rehman Chishti during PMQs in the House of Commons. Picture: ParliamentTV
Boris Johnson confirms Medway will be getting a mass vaccine centre following a question from Rehman Chishti during PMQs in the House of Commons. Picture: ParliamentTV

Further details have not yet been announced about locations but it follows confirmation from NHS officials at the opening of Kent's first mass centre in Folkestone yesterday that "three or four more" sites would open across the county in the coming weeks.

Mr Chishti also spoke of his personal and constituents' frustrations at a slower roll out of the vaccine in parts of Medway, which has seen some of the highest infection rates in the country during the winter.

He said: "My constituents in Gillingham and Rainham and the wider Medway towns would like me to raise their real concerns with regard to the availability of the vaccine in our towns.

"We have people in the 80s and 90s who have not yet had the vaccination.

"Medway was one of the hardest hit areas and Kent saw a mutant variant discovered. North Kent has some of the biggest health inequalities in the country.

"Can the Prime Minister please ensure we have the mass vaccination centre in Medway?"

Medway Covid vaccination centres and the surgeries each one covers
Medway Covid vaccination centres and the surgeries each one covers

Mr Johnson said more than 80% of the over 80s have now been vaccinated across the country.

Kelly Tolhurst, Mr Chishti's Conservative colleague and MP for Rochester and Strood, has also been leading calls for a mass vaccine centre following major concerns about delays opening a centre on the Hoo Peninsula and leaving vulnerable people in more remote locations behind.

She said Medway Council had also been pushing for a large-scale facility.

It comes as the authority agreed a motion pressing the Kent and Medway CCG – which is overseeing the roll out of vaccines in GP surgeries – for better access to vaccine centres at a full council meeting last Thursday.

But when asked by KentOnline how the council would be lobbying government and would act to ensure the motion is fulfilled, council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett did not comment.

Also at PMQs, Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins urged the government to share more local data about vaccines to "target resources" in places where it was needed most.

Former Debenhams store in Folkestone is now being used as a vaccination centre. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Former Debenhams store in Folkestone is now being used as a vaccination centre. Picture: Barry Goodwin

"This week, Kent's first mass centre opened in Folkestone and is working with GP-led hubs in Folkestone, Hythe and Lydd.

"As we accelerate delivery, does my right honourable friend agree we need greater sharing of data at a local level so we can target the resources of the largest vaccination programme in our history at both hard to reach groups and the most vulnerable communities?"

Mr Johnson responded saying it was a "very important point", adding: "I know it's something everyone across this house wants to see.

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, questioned about sharing more local data to help target vaccine roll out in hard to reach areas and vulnerable communities. Picture: ParliamentTV
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, questioned about sharing more local data to help target vaccine roll out in hard to reach areas and vulnerable communities. Picture: ParliamentTV

"There are particularly problems, obviously, with sharing detailed medical records with local government.

"But we're giving public health officials all the information we can give them without breaching confidentiality to find those hard to reach groups and encourage them to get those vaccinations.

"Wonderful work is being done and I encourage all members to get your constituents to take up this offer."

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