Coronavirus in Portsmouth: GP's plea for over-50s to seize Covid-19 jab offers to help unlock Britain
AROUND nine in ten over-50s in the area have received their first Covid vaccine dose – with a GP urging more to book a jab so younger people can be protected.
Dr Hannah Morgan, overseeing the community vaccination programme in Havant, urged already contacted people to book their slot as her team works hard to get clinics ready.
The GP, who is primary care clinical director for Hayling Island and Emsworth, said moving beyond the over-50s would help open society ‘as quickly as possible’.
It comes as figures released on Thursday show 89.8 per cent of the over-50s in Portsmouth had received at least one jab, rising to 92.1 in Gosport, 92.5 per cent in Havant, and 93.7 in Fareham.
Speaking to The News, Dr Morgan said: ‘We know that vaccination is our way out of the pandemic and we’ve done really well to really quickly achieve over 90 per cent of over-50s.
‘We want to make sure we have enough vaccine to finish off that job to move as quickly as we can through the rest of the population to keep the rates down.
‘It’s vaccination, as well as social distancing, washing hands and face masks - all of that - but it’s vaccination that reduces the hospital rates.
‘We all want society to open up as quickly as possible - we want to get through and vaccinate over 90 per cent of the rest of the population.’
Despite the national slowdown in supply, Dr Morgan’s team will be delivering a ‘higher level of vaccines’ in April, moving to second doses and continuing first jabs.
Dr Morgan is urging people over-50 who have received a text or contact from her team to book their vaccine at either Havant or Waterlooville health centres, or Emsworth Baptist Church.
In Portsmouth, all city residents aged 50 and above have now been at least offered their first coronavirus vaccine, with health teams working to encourage any who missed or didn't register for their appointments to book.
During a Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) meeting on Thursday members heard how vaccine sites were 'almost ready' to contact cohorts 10, 11 and 12 - patients aged 40 to 49, 30 to 39 and 18 to 29.
Speaking at the meeting, the CCG's director of primary care Simon Cooper said: ‘We have all five primary care network (PCN) sites reporting having contacted and offered cohorts one through to nine.
‘We are now just about finishing off cohorts one to nine and just about ready for cohorts 10 to 12. When we get the national directive, we can go forward.’
He said that there had been some issues with people missing appointments.
'They have been contacted multiple times, but we have still given out 100 per cent of vaccines that have come to us,' he added.
'In some cases we are seeing patients have booked vaccines in both the PCN sites and via the national booking system. What we are seeing is patients booking in both sites but not cancelling one of the vaccines so that slot becomes empty.
'The vaccine isn't wasted, they will then be used the following day but it does have an impact on resources in terms of clinicians and admin staff who are often sat there with nothing to do assuming there would be someone coming in to get vaccinated.
'We are seeing that as a slightly increasing problem and that might be due to education but we are in contact with the communications team about that. We are doing our best to reduce that.'
Mr Cooper also said the CCG was still working with the local resilience forum to provide some leftover vaccines to police and fire services staff.
Dr Morgan said that no dose goes to waste, with staff calling those on a short-notice list who can get the jab if someone does not attend.
No-shows have been few, but did rise last week following decisions in Europe to pause the AstraZeneca roll out. These have since been reversed.
This week Dr Hannah Morgan, who is overseeing Havant’s vaccination scheme, received five days’ notice of how many doses would be delivered to which site, compared to a usual 10 days.
Each week it’s scramble to stand up the operation, involving contacting priority recipients, organising volunteers, vaccinators and administrative workers.
‘It’s a huge effort after we get the delivery schedule,’ Dr Morgan said.
She added everyone’s efforts had been ‘phenomenal’ and said the public ‘needed us to deliver’.
Some 60,000 people have been vaccinated in the Havant borough in 12 weeks, she said.
Earlier this week Dr Morgan raised concerns about the NHS England delay in notifying her team of deliveries.
She tweeted said: ‘There is a dissonance emerging between what politicians are saying and what happening on the ground. We can’t plan clinics next week yet, as no delivery schedules.
‘(AstraZeneca) risks being stockpiled unless we can move down the cohorts. Need to look after primary care please (vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi).’
Those concerns prompted Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan to call on government to provide ‘transparency’ to keep disruption down.
Mr Morgan said: ‘This is one of the biggest logistical challenges this country has ever embarked on, which means it is vital vaccine hubs get the information they need for their local vaccine rollout plans to run efficiently.
‘Portsmouth is hugely proud of what our NHS has done so far. Government must provide further clarity on this urgently.’
So far 840,000people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have received their first jab, out of a population of more than 2m people.
A Department for Health spokeswoman said: ‘Vaccines are being distributed fairly across the UK to make sure the most vulnerable people in society are immunised first.
‘Some parts of the country have made very significant progress and their vaccination totals are above the average.
‘We continue to put more supply into areas that have further to go and the rollout of vaccinations will continue to expand at pace as we work to offer a first vaccine to all over-50s by mid-April and deliver second doses on schedule.’