Penrith MP Dr Neil Hudson has had an assurance from the Government that Cumbria’s rural status will not mean it loses out on the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Hudson asked an urgent question of health secretary Matt Hancock in the House of Commons.
He asked: “Can I congratulate and thank my Right Honourable Friend, his department, the NHS, the scientists, clinicians and everyone involved in the development and rollout of this COVID vaccine technology.
“Will my Right Honourable Friend provide assurance that logistics are in place to ensure that those in remote rural areas such as in Cumbria will be able to access the vaccination programme without any delay, given they are some distance away from major hospitals?”
Mr Hancock said in response: “Yes, he rightly raises an important point. Vaccinations are happening in Cumbria today, which I am pleased about, but of course Cumbria is one of the most rural parts of the UK so when we get to the primary care and community rollout we will make sure we get the delivery as close to communities as possible.
“Of course it is much harder with Pfizer vaccine because of the -70c requirements and the AstraZeneca vaccine is much easier from this point of view but of course we don’t have that signed off yet.”
Afterwards Dr Hudson added: “I do not underestimate the task that the Government has of rolling out vaccines to those in society who need it as a priority and then to the wider population and I am glad the Government recognises the challenges of the vaccine reaching rural areas that are many miles from hospitals.”
“We are in the very early stages of the rollout but I will continue to press Government on this issue to ensure that rural communities such as in Penrith and the Border are fully part of the national rollout.”