Armed Forces personnel have been deployed in efforts to construct coronavirus vaccination centres, a defence minister has confirmed.
Last week, servicemen and women arrived at Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium to begin converting it into a mass coronavirus vaccination site.
During defence questions, Armed Forces minister James Heappey told the House of Commons: “Defence is working closely with other Government departments, particularly DHSC (the Department of Health and Social Care) and BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), to assist on vaccine rollout plans.
“Sixty military planners are integrated within the vaccine taskforce and Defence has deployed 56 personnel to assist in constructing vaccination centres.”
Labour’s shadow defence minister Stephen Morgan raised concerns that the Armed Forces could be left stretched as a result, to which Mr Heappey replied: “There are 2,600 service personnel deployed right now.
“The winter preparedness package is 13,500 people… and we’re confident that in generating that package, we have not in any way damaged defence’s ability to prepare for operations that are currently required or, indeed, are required within the next six months.
“Everything that defence is doing… we’re able to do without threatening defence output and we’re delighted to be playing the part that we are in supporting the country at this important time.”
Mr Heappey said he expected Armed Forces personnel to be properly accommodated while helping carry out testing operations across the country.
As of 4 December 2020, there were 2,938 military personnel committed to assist with 56 open Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) requests.