Outrage as people in Coventry offered Covid jab over 100 miles away | World news

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People in Coventry are being invited to travel more than 100 miles for their first Covid-19 jab, prompting politicians and GPs in the city to criticise the government’s national programme of vaccinations.

Residents aged over 80 received letters over the weekend saying they could travel to Manchester to get the jab, despite government policy that patients should not have to drive more than 45 minutes to a centre.

The Coventry North MP, Taiwo Owatemi, said: “I was ecstatic that Coventry was the first in the world to administer the vaccine but it has been wholly disappointing that progress has stunted since.

“I am outraged that patients in the high-risk category are having to choose between putting themselves at risk and travelling over 100 miles to Manchester or delay their receipt of the vaccine.”

Other residents were invited to Birmingham’s Millennium Point, 20 miles away, one of seven mass vaccination centres that opened on Monday.

Last week, GP practices were having to cancel scheduled vaccination appointments due to a lack of communication over supply. Only one out of the city’s seven primary care networks (PCN) was distributing the vaccine at the time.Five PCNs are now distributing jabs, but Owatemi said GPs were left frustrated that vulnerable patients were being forced to travel excessive distances, often by public transport, to get the vaccine more quickly.

“We have brilliant local GPs who are ready to go, so the government must ensure a steady and continuous supply with no delays,” she added.

Dr Gavin Shields, a GP and vice-chair of the Coventry local medical committee, said he had been told vaccines would be arriving at his practice on Wednesday, more than three weeks after vaccines were originally due to arrive the week before Christmas.

Now that the UK has authorised the first Covid vaccine, who will get it first?

The government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says its priority is to prevent Covid-related deaths and protect health and social care staff and systems.

Elderly care home residents and their carers are first on the JCVI’s list because their risk of exposure to the virus is higher and because the risk of death closely correlates with older age. They are followed in priority by anyone else over 80 and frontline health and social care workers.

Even so, for pragmatic reasons NHS staff are likely to be the first group to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab. This is because the vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, which can be achieved more easily by using hospital facilities

Are there enough doses to reach all the priority groups?

Together, care home residents, their carers and the over-80s make up nearly 6 million people, and frontline NHS staff a further 736,685. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has said he expects 10m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be available this year, so if this is the only vaccine authorised, everyone else would have to wait until further doses become available next year. 

Where will I go for the vaccine?

Covid-19 vaccines are expected to be delivered at three types of venue: NHS trust “vaccine hubs” at hospital sites; mass vaccination centres, which are in the process of being set up at places such as football stadiums, conference buildings and racecourses – these are expected to vaccinate up to 5,000 people a day; and at GP surgeries and pharmacies. GPs can also visit care home residents and housebound patients at home without them needing to travel.

How far apart will the two doses be administered, and will I protected after the first?

While there is some evidence to indicate high levels of short-term protection from a single dose of vaccine, a two-dose schedule is what has been approved by the MHRA.

The second dose will need to be delivered at least 21 days after the first, and both will be injected into the deltoid muscle – the thick triangular muscle we use to raise each arm.

For the Pfizer vaccine, its efficacy rate was calculated seven days after the second shot. It is likely that people will have some protection before this, but this is how long it will take for full protection to kick in. We will learn more about the extent of protection and how long it lasts as data from ongoing clinical trials comes in.

Can I pay to get the vaccine privately?

Unlikely. England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, has said he believes Covid-19 vaccines should be delivered according to clinical priority rather than allowing people to jump the queue if they can afford it.

Will I be able to choose which vaccine I have?

Also unlikely, at least in the short to medium term. Assuming more than one vaccine is approved, the priority will be distributing any available doses to the people who need it as quickly as possible.

Linda Geddes

“We were all geared up and we had a site ready. We started booking people in and then it got cancelled. That happened to a lot of sites,” Shields said.

“I am so proud Coventry was up there as the first hospital to deliver the vaccine but I’m just terribly disappointed with the national communications, with the honesty and the transparency since. It’s worrying for our patients, they are very tense.”

He said elderly residents were distressed by the letters sent over the weekend directing them towards mass vaccination centres instead. “The phones were ringing off the hook on Monday morning with people confused, asking whether they were getting their vaccine here or whether they should go to Birmingham, not knowing what to do.”

At University hospital in Coventry, Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first patient in the world to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after its approval in the UK, with the health secretary, Matt Hancock, hailing the moment as “the start of the fightback” against Covid-19.

GPs and pharmacists have been putting pressure on the government to speed up the distribution of jabs across the country. In its vaccine delivery plan announced on Monday, the government said 1,200 community service sites would be delivering vaccines by the end of the month, but as of Sunday only 785 were up and running.

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the Midlands said: “Patients in this area have a choice about where to be vaccinated; they can opt to attend one of their local vaccination centres or attend Birmingham’s Millennium Point.

“There are seven local vaccination service sites in Coventry, which are jointly run by 54 GP practices in the area, deliveries of the vaccines go to the sites and not individual practices and by Friday all seven sites will have received vaccine supply.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Outrage as people in Coventry offered Covid jab over 100 miles away | World news

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