‘Give us jabs now’: Surge vaccinations call as millions across North West asked not to travel

'Give us jabs now': Surge vaccinations call as millions across North West asked not to travel 1 Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has called for vaccinations for 18 to 30-year-olds to be included in the government's "strengthened support package" to tackle the Delta variant.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has called for vaccinations for 18 to 30-year-olds to be included in the government’s “strengthened support package” to tackle the Delta variant.

On Wednesday the health secretary asked people in Greater Manchester and Lancashire to minimise travel and meet people outside where possible to prevent the variant spreading further there.

The government also announced a “strengthened support package” to help with the COVID response, which includes help from the military and extra testing facilities.

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But Mr Burnham has told Sky News it needs to include vaccinations for younger-than-currently-eligible age groups as well.

“We’re saying to the government – give us the supplies you would give us anyway – don’t give us more supplies than we need – just give us those supplies now,” he said.

“Let us make progress vaccinating those younger people in the next two or three weeks.

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“It makes more sense to vaccinate 18 to 30-year-olds now in June rather than doing it in July when they’ve already had the Delta variant.”

As of Tuesday, people aged 25 to 29 are now eligible to get their coronavirus vaccine, with hundreds of thousands booking their jabs on the first day possible.

In Blackburn, Lancashire, local public health teams have been giving vaccines to younger people against government advice.

Mr Burnham said that although the variant cases are going down in Bolton, where it first surged, infections are going up in the other nine boroughs of Greater Manchester.

He added that he does support the government’s offer of support to deal with the variant – as opposed to restrictions – but believes they were to slow to act.

“The delay is one of the causes of the situation we’re in. There’s no denying it’s had an impact,” he said.

The “strengthened” support package for Greater Manchester and Lancashire includes:

• Rapid response teams
• Extra COVID-19 testing
• Military support
• Supervised in-school testing

Residents in both areas are also being advised to work from home where possible and get tested twice a week.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham receives his second vaccine dose at the Etihad Stadium
Image: Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham receives his second vaccine dose

But following the announcement, Mr Burnham stressed the government advice is only guidance and people will not be accused of breaking the law.

“This is guidance, it is advice to the public,” he said at a news conference.

“It is not a lockdown. It is not a ban… this is not about telling people to cancel their plans, it is about asking them to be careful in setting any new ones, to minimise non-essential travel.”

The government is yet to decide on whether to go ahead with the final stage of easing lockdown in England on 21 June.

On Wednesday Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News: “We have always said that the roadmap is subject to review of the data, that is what is happening right now.”

A final decision is due to be announced by the prime minister on 14 June.

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