BLACKBURN with Darwen Council has confirmed the coronavirus vaccine will NOT be offered to all over-18s in the borough, despite earlier reports.

The BBC and Press Association both reported today that the vaccine rollout would be sped up in the borough which has rising cases of Covid, linked to the Indian variant which is concerning scientists.

But the council said this evening that although extra clinics will be offered next week, vaccines at the clinics will not be widely available to over 18s.

A spokesperson said: "Contrary to earlier social media and news reporting, vaccines at the clinics will not be widely available to over 18s.

"They will be available within current Government guidance, which is currently anyone over the age of 38, anyone over 18 with an underlying health condition or who lives with someone who has lowered immunity, health and social care staff and carers.

"Blackburn with Darwen Council and NHS partners have responded immediately to provide doses of the Pfizer vaccine at the clinics following yesterday’s announcement on a rise in cases of Covid-19 linked to, in part, a new variant of concern, first identified in India, that may spread more easily."

Clinic locations confirmed are Everest Pharmacy in Darwen on Monday and Tuesday and Royal Blackburn Hospital from Tuesday to Thursday.

A programme of additional testing and enhanced contact tracing is also being prepared for the area.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, council leader Mohammed Khan CBE, chief executive Denise Park, and director of public health Professor Dominic Harrison said: “Whilst the Prime Minister announced this week that we can progress to step three of the Government’s road map as planned next week, we need everyone in Blackburn with Darwen to be extra vigilant and proceed with caution.

“The variant first identified in India is more transmissible than other variants, which means it is easily passed on from one person to another.”

Downing Street said officials would not “rule anything out” when asked if the Government was considering surge vaccinations to accompany surge testing in areas with spikes of new variants, but said there were no plans to reintroduce the tiering system.