EVERYONE in living Bolton has been invited to get a coronavirus vaccine before 5pm today to halt the spread of the deadly Indian variant.
It comes as the town is fighting a spike in infections almost ten times higher than the UK average – with the equivalent of 228.5 cases per 100,000 people.
Thousands of people are now queing after Councillor Andy Morgan shared a Tweet inviting locals of all ages to “visit the vaccine bus” if they live in the area and are registered with a local GP.
He told residents that if they make their way down “the team will find a reason to vaccinate you.”
He added: “Closes at 5pm. The 4000 vaccines must be used today.”
Bolton currently has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the country, with 657 new cases in the seven days to May 10
The majority of these new cases are the B16172 variant, which was first identified in India.
But hospitalisations in the over-60s, who are most at-risk from serious infection, remain low, with data suggesting the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines are effective against the variant.
Queues of hundreds of people were seen waiting today for testing and vaccinations as the locals scramble to do all they can to keep their town out of another local lockdown.
Yesterday Boris Johnson announced that the army is set to be deployed in the town in a race to crack down on the strain.
Surge testing had already been deployed in the area in order to detect cases of the Indian and South African variant.
Mr Johnson said the army would help push out more surge tests and vaccinations will also be pushed in both Bolton and Blackburn with Darwen – with sites opening for longer in these areas.
He said: "We will be throwing everything we have at this task. Colonel Russ Miller, commander of the North West region, will be deployed to support local leaders in managing the local response on the ground.
"For those living in Bolton there is now a new, greater risk from this variant.
"The army will be out on the streets handing out tests".
Public health officials in Bolton had last week asked the government to roll out surge testing and one expert yesterday said that it had been speaking to the government about rolling out jabs faster.
The leader of Bolton Council David Greenhalgh told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "This is an issue of capacity but we have had very, very constructive talks and certainly all the soundings are is that they are looking to progress that as soon as possible.
"The vast majority of our cases are in their teens, 20s and 30s at the moment.
"If we can get vaccinations to (those aged) 16-plus, which are licensed by Pfizer, then it will make a total transformation of transmission as it moves forward.
"I think realistically that would start in targeted areas where we see the predominance (of the virus) currently."
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