PUBLIC health experts have called for a surge in vaccinations to help deal with high infection rates.

Blackburn with Darwen, along with Bolton, currently has one of the highest rates of infections in the country, with prime minister Boris Johnson confirming yesterday that although the government is not yet planning further lockdowns, the army will be deployed to help with testing.

However, speaking to Local Government Chronicle, Blackburn with Darwen director of public health Professor Dominic Harrison said that vaccinations should have been targeted specifically towards at risk boroughs like his much sooner.

He said: “We now have rising rates in those areas where we precisely predicted those rates and asked for accelerated vaccinations.

"An intervention would have reduced the risk dramatically, but the government has vaccinated at the same rate everywhere which seems completely unfair, one jab does not offer the same life chances up and down the country.”

Turning to the impact of the so-called Indian variant, he added: "The government were two or three weeks too late in making India a red listed country requiring quarantine rather than self isolation at home - red-listing India should have been done at the same time as it was in Bangladesh and Pakistan.”

Professor Harrison told the Local Government Chronicle that he is “furious” that his vaccine calls have so far gone unheeded.

He said: “It just feels like there is logic in what we have been asking for and the inevitable consequences of not listening to our calls are now playing out, very sadly.

"Despite the Indian variant surge, they are still not allowing us to maximise an optimal response.

"It is very frustrating that the policy is defined centrally in London for areas with very different risks, if they are hearing us, they are not listening to us.”

He warned that there could still be a danger of local lockdowns, both in Blackburn with Darwen and in Bolton.

Professor Harrison said: "This is going to be a risk for the mutation of variants across the country.

"We will get a series of variants emerging, no doubt, at the moment the Indian variant looks like it is not going to escape the vaccination or increase hospitalisations, but other variants may.

“We need to manage this more effectively and allow directors of public health to make the call, or we will risk failing during this key period of pandemic management.”

Similarly, Professor Donna Hall, chair of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, has said that there is now an 'urgent' need for a surge in vaccinations.

She said: "In Bolton our rate increases by 20 to 30 per cent per day.

"We are seeing it go up in five other Greater Manchester boroughs.

Surge vaccination is now urgent, the words of WHO’s Michael Ryan have never been so relevant, 'speed trumps perfection in a pandemic.'

"Seriously what are we waiting for?"