(Last updated 2 February 16:39)
It is not surprising that I have received a number of correspondence from constituents regarding the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. My team have shared with me the concerns of residents and I have worked to address some of the key issues that has been sent in response to these concerns. I thought it would be helpful to share this information more widely and hope that you find this useful.
I know that we are all keen for vaccinations to happen as quickly as possible, particularly those most at risk from coronavirus. However, we cannot underestimate the scale of the operation. I understand that Covid-19 vaccines will become available as they are approved for use and as each batch is manufactured. This means that even those in the highest priority groups may need to wait. In the first few weeks when vaccine supply was more limited, sites were chosen based on their ability to handle the Pfizer vaccine, while ensuring a geographical spread.
By 31 January 2021, the NHS aims to have offered a first vaccine to all those in priority group 1 (residents in a care home for older adults and their carers) and by 14 February 2021 to all those in priority groups 2-4 (all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers, all those 75 years of age and over, all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individual). The Health Secretary has confirmed that we are on course to achieve this.
We have now vaccinated more than 7 million people in the UK, more people than anywhere else in Europe and have new vaccination sites coming online all the time. This includes more hospitals, GP led services, a number of pilot pharmacy vaccine services and in particular the seven regional Vaccination Centres to deliver at pace. At present, supply is the main speed limiting factor but as supply becomes more available, we can shift the approach to convenience and better utilise our fantastic community pharmacists. Crucially this will allow us to better get into the hard to reach areas. More locally, I was pleased to hear that North West London has the second highest numbers of Covid vaccine deliveries in London (over 91,000 so far according to the latest update I received) and the NHS is working through the list in order of clinical priority.
I am aware that some constituents are concerned that either they or their loved ones are not being called while they are hearing of others who have. I want to encourage everyone to be patient, this is a huge operation and there are a number of reasons why someone you know may have been called before you. They may belong to a different GP or have underlying health conditions which make them a greater clinical priority, to name just a few examples.
Upon receiving the letter, you may well be asked to travel to one of the seventeen regional Vaccination Centres, likely the Olympic Office Centre in Wembley. I want to stress that for some people this will clearly not be possible, and those people are able to request that they visit a site more locally when that option becomes available. The last time I spoke with the healthcare professionals we had 21 Primary Care Vaccination Sites which, at full capacity, shall be able to vaccinate 2000 people per week. In addition, we shall soon have a number of Large Vaccination Hubs which will be able to vaccinate between 7,000 and 35,000 per week when operating at full capacity.
I know that there have also been concerns raised about the distribution of the vaccine. Based on the demographics of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, we may have a greater need for a higher number of vaccines. During the initial roll out, the vaccines were being delivered to regions evenly. This was both in order to get the ball roll quickly but also because of the way they were packaged. They had been delivered in large packages and so not easily broken up to fit different regional needs. This has now been adapted to allow a more manageable delivery to more evenly match local need, but it does explain why some areas were quicker in getting started than others if there was not as high a demand.
It is important to stress that I can in no way intervene to try and prioritise individuals or request answers as to why you have not been called yet. We all need to just try and be patient. I have regular conversations with the local health care teams who are coordinating this effort and I know they are working flat out to achieve these ambitious targets.
If there are any concerns that have not been addressed, please email email@example.com
You can also read the Government's Vaccine Delivery Plan here: https://www.conservatives.com/news/covid-19-uk-vaccines-delivery-plan