Frustration as thousands in New Forest and Christchurch given Covid jabs while others wait

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covid vaccinations
The vaccine centre at Bournemouth International Centre

THOUSANDS of people have been vaccinated in the New Forest and Christchurch although there are growing concerns that progress has been patchy.

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While some people aged in their 80s and 90s continue to wait for an invitation to get their jab, others just below them on the priority list, such as those deemed vulnerable and over 70, have already begun to get theirs.

As the roll-out of the programme continues, the organisation running it in the New Forest, the NHS West Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has urged people to wait to be contacted.

The A&T asked for local figures but was told only national statistics were available.

As well as the smaller sites already open locally, this week a major clinic was established at Bournemouth International Centre. Four more are set to launch in Southampton and other Hampshire cities.

To make it easier for pensioners to get to their appointments, from Monday Hampshire County Council will also allow them to use their bus passes before 9.30am, which will last until schools reopen to all students.

Despite the activity, progress with vaccine has encountered problems, such as Highcliffe Medical Centre where late delivery meant it started giving jabs to patients only within the last week.

Brockenhurst parish councillors at their latest meeting reported older people still waiting – including a 92-year-old woman from the village who had to chase up the NHS. She had first been offered an appointment in Exeter but managed to switch it to a local venue for today (Friday).

One unhappy resident, who did not want to be named, complained: “GP surgeries are maintaining a wall of silence and only repeating the mantra ‘wait until you are called’.”

This week the NHS West Hampshire CCG said the programme was “well under way”, adding people aged 70 and over and listed as clinically extremely vulnerable will now also start receiving invitations to have the vaccination.

It added: “Our teams are working hard to ensure that we can vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible and so if you are invited please come and get vaccinated.

“We need the public to play their part too, so please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine. We will contact you and when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments at exactly the time you’re asked to, so that we can avoid queues in this cold weather.”

The CCG advised people to make sure their GP has up correct contact details, including a mobile number if possible, but to do it online to avoid blocking phone lines.

However, New Milton Coastal Medical Partnership told their patients aged 80 or over to contact them from next week if they had not had a jab invitation.

Drs Jayne Tabot and Will Howard revealed to 150 members of the New Milton Residents’ Association on Monday the partnership had already administered more than 4,000 jabs and offered one to every care home resident.

In New Milton some who have had the Pfizer jab cannot get their second doses.

Original plans for administering follow-up booster jabs had been disrupted, they admitted, by a delayed delivery and government advice the partnership must instead give first doses to 1,000 other patients. The partnership had been warned it could lose its licence to vaccinate if it did not comply.

Although Pfizer stood by its study that the second dose should be given three to four weeks after the first, Dr Howard said that research showed people who had the first dose were still very well protected after 12 weeks.

Dr Howard highlighted those with disabilities – such as Down’s syndrome – got priority under guidelines.

The NHS has instructed hospital trusts across the UK to vaccinate staff as soon as possible and locally there were calls to prioritise people in certain professions.

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill wants the designation for police officers and key council workers.

Deborah Burrows, who runs the Healthy Pet Store in Totton, said staff manning essential outlets should be higher up the queue too.

According to NHS figures for England, nearly 4-million first dose vaccinations had been made by Tuesday, plus almost 435,000 second jabs.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Firstly I’d like to commend the excellent efforts by local practices to vaccinate their populations and the very helpful newforestpcn.co.uk/covid-vaccine website which I only found by accident. The reported quote from Dr Howard that research shows a Pfizer vaccine first dose provides very good protection after 12 weeks is worrying and puzzling. The last thing we need is for vaccinated people to think they can safely indulge in “risky” behaviour. A freely available article in an online early January BMJ “Covid-19: What’s the evidence for extending the dosing interval?” tells a comprehensive and different story and at this moment the WHO advice, newly revised American CDC guidelines, European Medicines Agency and rest of the world all seem very clear that 3 to 6 weeks between doses is optimal. Pfizer is quoted as stating it only has data up to 3 weeks after first vaccination. Our government’s best evidence for extending at present appears to be the mantra “If you only have 2 jabs and 2 grandparents what would you do?” Time will tell if they have made the right bet but meanwhile we all need to take care.

  2. Excellent Summation. I personally believe they have made the right decision for right reasons. Time will tell.

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