Covid jabs get under way
Mangotsfield resident and Kingswood Community transport volunteer Ray Isaac received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination at the Christchurch Medical and Dental Surgery in Downend
PEOPLE living in the Emersons Green area have started being vaccinated against Covid-19, as the national programme reaches GP surgeries.
The first vaccinations for residents were administered just before Christmas at Christchurch medical centre in North Street, Downend, for patients of the Downend Health Group, Emersons Green Medical Centre, Leap Valley, Orchard and Three Shires GP practices.
The Healthier Together partnership of ten local health and care organisations, which is organising vaccinations in the area, said that by mid-January, 19 local centres were acting as hubs across the Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset region, along with Southmead Hospital and Ashton Gate stadium, where a “super vaccination centre” has been set up.
The first vaccinations offered to Emersons Green, Lyde Green and Pucklechurch residents used the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab also offered from early January.
But the government’s decision to delay second doses of the vaccination from three weeks to 12, to ensure more people could quickly receive a first shot, meant that some patients in the area had second appointments cancelled.
Mangotsfield resident Ray Isaac, a volunteer driver with Kingswood Community Transport, was one of the first to receive a vaccination, on December 23.
But his appointment for a second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, on January 13, was cancelled.
The decision to delay is controversial because, while evidence has been found that a longer gap can increase the effectiveness of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, Pfizer says its vaccine has only been tested with a 21-day gap.
Ray, 82, was philosophical about the delay, saying: “I would have liked to have the second one but I suppose they’re trying to do the right thing so I don’t mind.”
He said he hoped the change would mean other people such as his wife, who is under 80, could get the vaccination more quickly.
The Healthier Together partnership is calling on people not to call their surgery to ask when they will be given the vaccine but instead to wait to be contacted.
The group said: “Staff are working tirelessly to ensure the necessary measures are in place for those most at risk to get their vaccine first. We are doing everything we can to stick to our timelines however we may need to cancel or amend appointments depending on delivery of the vaccine.”
A spokesperson for the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is part of the Healthier Together partnership, said each group of surgeries, known as a Primary Care Network (PCN), was planning vaccination days according to planned deliveries, with some organising them on consecutive days and some aiming to use an entire delivery of vaccines in a day.
The spokesperson said people who had been invited to have a jab at the Ashton Gate stadium centre but felt it was not convenient to travel there could wait to be invited to their local GP site.