Pubs and restaurants ‘not set up’ to help with vaccine rollout

Brewdog has offered its bars up as vaccination sites

Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Pubs and restaurants are not currently equipped to help roll out the Covid-19 vaccine, experts have warned, saying now was not the time to "cut corners".

Dominic Cadwallader, the general manager of medical equipment test firm JPen Medical, said fridges in hospitality venues were "not set up for storing medical products like vaccines and may have been unused for several months before they are turned on once again".

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature, compared to Pfizer’s candidate which requires much colder storage conditions, and Mr Cadwallader said there was a "danger of complacency creeping in".  

Pubs and restaurants have recently been offering themselves up as vaccination centres, saying they had the equipment and space to help roll out the vaccines.

Beer firm Brewdog, for example, said its bars had "waiting areas, huge refrigerators, seperate rooms for vaccinations and an ace team who can help organise". Scottish First Minister Nicole Sturgeon wrote on Twitter that she would "pass this on to our vaccination team".

However, Mr Cadwallader warned that a fast roll-out across venues risked "undoing the fantastic work that has been done to create these vaccines so quickly".

He said whilst it was a "good idea to utilise all the resources we have to beat this virus", further work would need to be done to make sure they were able to store the vaccines. "The simple answer is to ensure that every fridge is serviced and calibrated before they accept any doses of the vaccine. This can be done quickly and effectively ensuring no further delays in the vaccine programme.”

Mr Cadwallader said it was also important that GP surgeries were storing the vaccines correctly, given the numbers they were receiving daily, and not overpacking fridges or storing any at the bottom of the fridge. These things could reduce the overall temperature of the fridge and could spoil the vaccines. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine needs to be kept at between 2 and 8 degrees celsius. 

Vaccination efforts are accelerating across the UK, with NHS data revealing today that more than 2.6 million doses had been administered so far. 

Boris Johnson this week said vaccines would be given 24/7 "as soon as we can". They are currently being administered at pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals and mass vaccination centres across the country.

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