I wish I didn’t have to keep banging on about vaccine passports, but life right now is just like a box of Christmas chocolates – whilst you don’t know which one you’re going to get next, you can still get the same one five times in a row. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he wants vaccine booster centres opening 24 hours a day until New Year’s Eve.
Why? Because he wants everyone over the age of 18 living in England to be able to receive a booster on top of their two Covid jabs. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently allow anyone aged over 30 to get one – infact, I had mine only on Monday – and think it might be an idea to check whether it’s even logistically possible for them to vaccinate everyone over 18 before Jools Holland’s Hootenanny sees out the year.
A number of things clearly demonstrate that Johnson – and anyone who’d prefer I call him Boris is welcome to shove a Tory election manifesto up their backside – didn’t. For example, he revealed the decision at 8pm on a Sunday night in a pre-recorded announcement where he looked like he was half-drunk.
As sure as bears do what they do in the woods, the NHS website inevitably crashed minutes later as huge swathes of the English population raced online to book their appointments. Those problems only appear to be easing now, a few days after the announcement was made. But amidst all this, there’s one question which everyone seems to have missed.
Some of you, for example, might have noticed that this blog’s logo went all lovely and Christmassy back on December 1st. This is because something called Christmas is coming. It’s traditionally celebrated on December 25th and depending upon who you believe, it’s to commemorate either the birth of Jesus Christ or the birth of Santa Claus.
How on earth are you going to persuade vaccination clinics to stay open on Christmas Day? And in the unlikely event you can do that, who’s going to give up their Christmas dinner in order to administer the jabs? Who’s going to prefer watching the Queen’s Speech or the Christmas episode of Strictly Come Dancing on a big TV in a waiting room as opposed to their own house?
It’s not just Christmas Day that could be a problem. Boxing Day follows the next day, followed by two bank holidays. If the clinics don’t run on some or all of these days, this means even less time to reach the target. If they closed on all four, they would as of this morning have just 13 days to vaccinate over 40 million people – and those boosters require time to take effect.
This pandemic will shortly be celebrating its less than welcome second anniversary. But the anniversary of politicians making up policies on the back of a packet of cigarettes is far older…