Thursday, Sept 24, 2009
Two more sets of UK regional influenza pandemic contingency documents have revealed details regarding the government’s plans to set up mass vaccination centres in conjunction with local authorities and other departmentalized agencies.
One of the documents highlights a need to keep the location of mass vaccination centres secret from the public, while the other lists a sports stadium as one of the locations for mass public inoculation.
Earlier this week we highlighted regional H1N1 pandemic planning documents for the UK indicating that local authorities intend to set up mass vaccination sites to be overseen by crowd control police.
The plans outline the need to identify suitable locations for mass vaccination centres and the need to determine how many people can be vaccinated per day and for how long.
Now more documents from different regions have come to light, revealing the same overall strategy.
The first document, entitled Contingency Plan For Mass Vaccination And Treatment, originates from the Leicestershire Local Resilience Forum (LRF), a multi agency group consisting of the emergency services, local authorities, and local health trusts as well as the Environment Agency.
The document dated January 2008 states:
“When the general population is threatened or affected by a medical epidemic, mass vaccination of the public may be necessary.”
The “public version” of the plan states that the locations of the vaccine centers have been omitted.
“THE LOCATION OF VACCINATION AND TREATMENT CENTRES IS SENSITIVE INFORMATION, AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH. THEY WOULD BE EXEMPT FROM FoIA REQUESTS UNDER SECTION 38 OF THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000.” an excerpt reads.
The document advises that the mass vaccination centres should be ready to operate 24 hours a day and estimates that they will “process approximately 1,000 – 3,000 people per day”.
[efoods]The paper notes that the public should be informed “what to expect when they get there i.e. adverse reactions and where to get advice”.
It also gives an insight into the running of the centres, which is completely departmentalized under a “Tactical co-ordinating Group”. Under a section titled “Communications”, however, it is stated that “The Strategic co-ordinating Group will decide who will be the primary spokesperson in the interim set-up period; once command and control structure is in place, this may transfer to a specific agency.”
Like the earlier uncovered documents, the need for “triage” of patients is highlighted.
The paper also states that “Police Services will advise on the security/safety aspects of each considered site and respond to public order situations.”
In a key passage, the document notes “There is no specific legislation relating to this plan however, special powers granted to HM Government under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 may apply.”
The second freshly discovered document is a sample vaccination order (PDF) originating from the NHS health authority in Bolton, Lancashire.
The order states that people in the UK will be summoned for a vaccination at an “allocated” date and time at pre-planned mass vaccination centres, and that refusal to attend is not an option.
“It is important that you attend this session. If you are unable to attend, you will need to go to one of the later sessions listed overleaf,” says the letter in Appendix F page 29 of the contingency document.
The letter lists Bolton Arena as the mass vaccination site, which is a large indoor sports arena.
“This is a new vaccine, which protects against the pandemic strain of influenza, which circulated last year.” the letter, which was drawn up in September 2006, states.
The document also highlights the need for crowd control and says that contract security should be considered in addition to the local police forces.