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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 January 2021

Fully resource the vaccination programme now

Photo: Frolicsomepl/CC

Photo: Frolicsomepl/CC   (Click to enlarge)

The Covid death toll is over 80,000 and rapidly rising. A successful vaccination programme couldn't be more urgent. Over two million people, in four priority categories, have received a first dose of one of the two vaccines currently in use in the UK.

Few people would disagree with them going to the most vulnerable first, but the lengthy timetable for offering them to everyone they're authorised as safe for - "by the autumn" - shows that the resources are not matching the urgency.

This comes after the slowness and failings of the test-and-trace system, the shortages of PPE, and the too-late lockdowns. Like all the government's measures during the pandemic, it again shows the dire overall lack of preparedness for the coronavirus outbreak.

Where was the advance planning for the mass vaccination centres that have belatedly been opened? And where are the many more needed? Will hospital sites, GP-led centres and pharmacies be given the full resources they need to contribute to the vaccination programme on top of their normal workload?

There is also uncertainty over the vaccine supply, with the present stocks enough only for another month, and not yet all safety-checked and packaged.

The issue of staffing is especially critical. Rife with low pay and overwork, the NHS had a shortage of staff in normal times, without the huge extra burden of treating Covid patients, and now a vast vaccination programme. Tory ministers are resorting to involving volunteers from the St John's Ambulance charity, many with no medical background, and given only short, rudimentary training.

Despite the government's catalogue of failures, once again blame is being twisted onto ordinary people: 'too many aren't turning up for the vaccinations', is a new refrain in the big business-supporting media. What about the travel difficulties, in winter weather, for the over-80s and "extremely clinically vulnerable", not to mention for the incredibly busy and over-tired frontline health and care workers?

The minority who don't want to be vaccinated are attacked, regardless of the varied standpoints within that layer, and many simply have questions with no one to direct them to - 'don't contact the NHS' is the instruction. The government added to potential concerns by lengthening the gap between the first and second doses, and by allowing the two doses to be different vaccines in some circumstances.

So, while everyone would be glad to see Matt Hancock's prediction of a "great summer" come to fruition (though surely not great for those who have lost family and friends to Covid), few will trust that Boris Johnson's short-sighted, incompetent Tory government can deliver that.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 13 January 2021:


News

Our health and livelihoods before their profits

Londoners suffer and Khan piles on pressure

Bosses earn workers' annual wage in three days


NHS

NHS Emergency - Fight for a fully funded, publicly owned, socialist NHS

Dispatches from the front - health workers speak out

NHS pandemic warnings ignored - renationalise our NHS


Schools

Schools: Act together to oppose unsafe numbers and rising workload


Economy

Global capitalism at most dangerous conjuncture since the 1930s


Vaccines

Fully resource the vaccination programme now

Covid vaccine nationalism threatens pandemic response


International news

How should socialists respond to the 6 January attacks on Capitol Hill?


Retail

Lockdown 3.0 - fight to make our shops safe!

Ryan Aldred: Why I'm standing for Usdaw's EC


Workplace news

Unison get sec election shows left can win NEC

Royal mail management forced to make concessions

British Gas workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

Get stuck in to build a fighting, democratic PCS union


Youth and students

Refund student rent and fees - fight for free education and make the 1% pay

Exams scrapped again - young people need a future with jobs and free education


Campaigns and party news

Help us fund the fight for Socialism

TUSC to hold local elections conference in February


Review

Book Review: Humankind - Dispelling the myth that humans are too selfish for socialism


 

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