Opinion with South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay: East Kent needs a vaccination ‘super centre’

Craig Mackinlay

We now find ourselves in the twilight zone as the country pins hope for the protection of the most at risk groups, resumption of normality in education, the opening of businesses, reduced pressure in our hospitals and our release from draconian measures restricting our freedoms on the rapid and effective roll out of vaccines against Covid-19.

Nationally much is going in the right direction but we have had mixed coverage across my South Thanet constituency. At the Thanet end the vaccination of the over 80s and other at-risk groups has been progressing quite well but it has been a different story in and around Sandwich. To say I am annoyed with the various bodies responsible would be an understatement and I have spent the entire weekend working with local MP colleagues, badgering Ministers and NHS officials to get a better picture of the local vaccination plan.

As I write this, good news is emerging that the first appointments for Sandwich will start at the end of this week and over the weekend, the only downside being that these will be administered in Dover. What is becoming clear is that in the medium-term we will need a local super-centre to ensure that East Kent gets its vaccinations at speed and I am looking at various potential sites and putting these to Ministers. We have plenty of possible options with good parking and accessibility. We need to be on a war footing as each vaccine saves lives and brings us one step closer to normality.

The next question will be at what point can we start to open up? The government’s plan is to have the top four at-risk groups vaccinated by mid-February. This should take 80% of people out of risk of mortality and hospitalisation. This resets risk across the rest of us more to an annual ‘normal’ flu situation.

Add three weeks (the timeframe for the immune response to build) to mid-February comes to a date of March 8. Can this be the horizon date for the jump back down the tiering system? I hope so. In the interim, surely the vaccinated elderly, many who have suffered greatly with the effect of loneliness and worry over this long period, should be able to re-commence contact with their friends, similarly protected through vaccination, at the earliest opportunity. This is a key question that I shall try to raise in the House of Commons this week.

In the Parliamentary world, we face, after request by The Speaker, further moves online and further restrictions within the Parliamentary estate. I am uncomfortable with this no matter that I am part of the governing Party. I wish to hold the government to account on your behalf and have the opportunity to be troublesome if necessary. The arrangements do not allow for this as fully as in normal times so cannot continue any longer than is needed.

As part of the government’s levelling up agenda I was pleased that Ramsgate Town Centre is to receive £2.7m from the Future High Streets fund. Many national bids were entirely unsuccessful so this is all new money to pump prime private investment to magnify the government’s grant funding.

All High Streets will need to consider how they need to adapt their offer as places of interest to visit as well as shop as the move to online shopping increasingly gathers pace. Lots of other activity on Ramsgate Port as I progress community thoughts on its future.

Keep positive and keep well.


  1. Not a mention of the £20 a week being removed from Universal Credit in April. Sir Rog has already spoken out against its removal but not a peep from the brown nosing Mackinlay
    Get a grip Macca

    • Waiting for a reply to my email. Previous replies to my concerns are about what was down (like “nurses pay is higher than it was 3 years ago” but it is still not as high as it was 10 years ago) not what will be done for the future.

  2. Thank you Craig for raising your concerns about our vaccine progress and resources. I am sorry to read Sandwich is even worse, as nobody wants to be at the bottom of any progress tables and staff rolling this out are working so so so hard.

    Why is data for Thanet so shrouded in mystery all the time? Why can we not have the numbers like they share in Herne Bay and many other areas?

    I am not convinced Thanet is doing ‘quite well’, and we must do all we can for Thanet to get the resourcing and staffing and support it deserves for our NHS, our GPs and our community so we really accelerate this programme.

    How can it be that other parts of the UK are now onto the over 70’s and Thanet is still only just getting to the over 90s in some hubs?

  3. I’m pleased to see that the over 80s and key workers are about covered wit the jab but what about the carers of the clinically vulnerable who receive no pay or recognition for what they do but are essential to the care sector which would be overwhelmed if they became il.

  4. What happened to the army? It is surely the best use of a service that has the most experienced of logistics yet since the fanfare no sign of them. Also, no vaccines should have even started until every part of the country had sufficient doses. But, true to form, this government are so full of themselves they acted like over exited school kids kean to show how clever they are and true to form make a complete hash of it. Apparently there are parts of this country that are now offering 70 and over yet in Thanet there are many 80 year old and even some 90 year olds waiting. Nothing surprising is it Mr. Mackinlay?

    • The army are certainly doing testing in Thanet (at least in Birchington they are), presumably to free up more staff for vaccinating.

      • Peter, Peter. I’m now convinced your aim in life is to be contrary. I bet you were a lovely child… not. My point is valid, no vaccines should have started until the whole country had sufficient supplies. As for the army seen in Birchington, why aren’t they seen in Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Kingsgate, shall I continue. Its clear the whole process is up to standard for this government….. a very poor standard.

        • Bet you were also a very depressive and miserable child. Try focusing on the good rather than the band, you’ll feel so much better.

          Yes yes yes, the government have got some things wrong, but we’re currently world leaders in rolling out the vaccine.

  5. Still no sympathy for the sick and dying, just irritation that we’re still under draconian measures. Just for your own soul, Craig, try a bit of humanity!

    • Grow up. Silly remarks are not helpful. Nobody is unsympathetic to sick and dying, whatever their political views are.

      • Craig has made it obvious from the start that his idea of how to treat the pandemic would be to “shield ” the vulnerable and business as usual for everyone else.
        “Shield” means lock away and forget.
        But I won’t forget, come polling day.
        But, just for once, I do agree with Craig about the need for a vaccination centre in east Kent.

  6. I am very concerned that we do not have a ‘super’ vaccination centre locally. It seems to me that Kent (and Thanet in particular) which seemingly has a very high infection rate has no such centre and yet, surely should have one! Common sense would indicate that areas with high infection rates should be prioritised

  7. Craig really is a card isn’t he.

    Thanet is not doing ok and Is higher than UK average.

    It’s your party that has got the roll out of vaccine wrong and made a mess of this whole thing and all you care about is the measures in place.

    The rest of us don’t want the highest death rate per million which is what we have the highest in the world.

    So Craig…. stopped pushing a narrative of earliest freedom. We the people want less deaths, less suffering if we have to have some measures in place for this and have to cut out cloth accordingly we will.

    If we had of been more sensible and stricter easier we wouldn’t be in this mess. You as always have made this worse not better. Like everything you touch.

    • Only problem with that is all the stairs (there is also a back entrance, but there wouldn’t be a separate entrance and exit). Also, parking is a bit limited.

        • It does indeed, but many people in their 70s and 80s would still struggle with all those stairs (there’s no lift). There are steep sloping paths up & down, but still a struggle for many.

          Also, vulnerable people who haven’t been outdoors for a year are far safer in a car with one other person (or driving themself) than they are on a bus.

  8. If one goes to a testing centre and it is negative cannot one move to another part of the same place to be vaccinated?.

  9. Craig Mackinlay often gets a bashing when he writes a column but in this case he has stated a fair summary of the position regarding the mass vaccination scheme.
    Nationally, the picture is one of good progress so far.Only the supply of vaccine seems to limit the roll out in many areas.
    Newcastle upon Tyne has done particularly well, and when listening to the person in charge of vaccination, 3 things came out.One, you must have a plan,two you must be organised, and you must be determined to overcome local difficulties when they arise.
    In Thanet,these three requirements appear to be understood by those in charge of vaccination.
    Next door in Dover District, those requirements have not been taken up. There the roll out is sluggish, inadequate, and poorly planned.The Clinical Commissioning group is a giant, slow moving, bureaucracy, that seems impervious to concerns raised from outside its confines. The Primary care network is another giant organisation which is slow to respond.
    Mass vaccination was not unforeseen, so how is it possible that some areas hit the ground running and others like Dover,are running but only in circles? What were Kent + Medway CCG and Total health Excellence(Even the name is a phoney)doing in these last 11 months? The Ministry of Health are somewhat at fault, for not checking out the plans of these two bodies and making sure they were ready from day 1.
    We don’t need a super centre, world beating or not, just organisation and a determination to succeed.

    • But George he isn’t the opposition. So why do all his opinions sound like he is.

      This is a mess made and overseen by himself and his party. If it was for the likes of Craig causing strife in his own party things might be better (doubtful). His issue is he loves to play the opposite side. The victim. Appeal to the down and out ever person.

      I know it’s the new fashion in politics but it’s his system he is complaining about.

      He is no longer in UKIP and cannot play the “against the system card” he is the system

  10. Lots of tit for tat comments not very helpful this is a serious subject and not a time for trivial banter.

  11. A mass vaccination hub is very much needed. I have volunteered to be a vaccinator through St John’s Ambulance, but the nearest venues at which I can help are at ExCel or at Epsom Racecourse! A 3-4 hour round trip on top of the working day is not practical, and would mean drastically fewer hours put in than would be the case if East Kent had not been at the end of the list as usual

  12. The Manston airport terminal building would make an ideal vaccination hub – big open spaces with side rooms and lots of easy car parking.

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