1 September 2021
A number of recent blog posts have focused on difficulties like driver shortages, rising raw material costs and supply chain disruptions. So here’s something that's perhaps a bit more positive.
The UK government last month signed a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for 35 million vaccine doses to be delivered from the second half of 2022.
So unless you happen to be a dedicated anti-vaxxer, that’s good news.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this is to "future-proof" the country from the threat of Covid-19 and its variants through safe and effective vaccines, ensuring it remains ahead of the virus for years to come and for any future booster programmes.
“The government is preparing for a booster programme this year to ensure those most vulnerable to Covid-19 are protected,” he said, adding that this will be based on the final advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), expected in September.
This also strikes me as positive news for the hire industry. If these additional doses will start being delivered roughly a year from now, it indicates the long-term nature of the vaccination programme – and, surely, the ongoing requirement for the extra facilities needed to administer them.
True, many people (myself included) had their two jabs at their local doctor’s surgery. But many others have received them at one of the emergency sites that have been opened up throughout the country.
Indeed, the government states that, according to 26 July data, there are more than 2,000 such facilities in England alone. They have been created at such diverse venues as football stadiums, fire stations, retail outlets, arts centres, race courses, museums and other locations, as well as hospitals, pharmacies and medical centres.
Some 99% of the English population are said to be within ten miles of such a local service.
As the blog has mentioned on several occasions, many of these facilities have been created with hired-in equipment, ranging from temporary structures, generators and lighting towers, to signs, crowd barriers and heaters.
And many centres have had to be relocated to allow the facilities to return to their former purpose as the economy reopens. That involves a lot of equipment and setup work.
Obviously not all hirers benefit from these contracts but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of local independents hirers I've spoken to who have been able to get involved.
So the long-term nature of the Covid-19 vaccination response suggests that hirers’ services will be needed for some time yet. Indeed, the NHS faces a significant backlog in its normal medical duties, including many operations and check-ups postponed during the pandemic. Continuing these temporary facilities could play a key role in relieving some of this burden.
Pictured is a Covid-19 vaccination centre at London Bridge (credit: Owen Blacker/Wikimedia Commons).