COVID-19 vaccines will start to be rolled out in GP surgeries in Lincolnshire by the end of this week The Voice has been told – but the leader of South Holland District Council doubts it will happen that soon.
Lord Gary Porter says he’s been frustrated by the lack of information over vaccine availability which comes as residents were plunged into another lockdown similar to the first one last March.
A spokesman for the United Lincolnshire Hospital NHS Trust and Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group told The Voice that the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine was being rolled out to ‘Primary Care’ such as doctors ‘by the end of the week’ after the first person received it at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital on Tuesday.
A follow-up statement said: “Following the announcement that the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, the NHS in Lincolnshire is pleased to be working with colleagues across the county to ensure increased availability of the COVID-19 vaccine at the earliest opportunity.”
Health practices in South Holland have been urging patients not to contact them to ask about vaccine appointments especially after the announcement on Monday that a lockdown was being put in place and that residents should only leave their homes for essential needs.
Lord Porter told The Voice he was frustrated by the lack of information available.
“I don’t think it will be in South Holland by the end of the week,” he said of vaccines. “The AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can be kept in a domestic fridge and should be deployed the same as the flu vaccine.
“Any professionals with experiences of needles, ex nurses, paramedics, vets, dentists should be called up to do a bit of jabbing.
“The Army should be called in. The health service is already busy.
“The lack of information makes me feel it is not ready to roll out. There should have already been a plan that should have been communicated to everyone.
“To do that properly you need the number of doses of vaccines available in the county and district. It’s annoying and frustrating because as leader of the council people ask me what’s happening.
“I ask the people who are supposed to know and they don’t have a Scooby either.
“The county council is responsible for healthcare, but they don’t have a clue and that’s not their fault.
“It’s not a good way of doing things.
“GPs are being contacted 100 times a day asking about the vaccine.
“If the county only has a small number of doses then they have to say so.
“On BBC Lincolnshire yesterday I heard someone say there was 8,000 which, if correct, is less than one per cent of the population of the county.
“If there’s so few doses that might explain why the mobilisation plan isn’t in place.
“The public aren’t stupid and by not telling people information they start to fill in the blanks. They’re being asked to pay a very high price in the loss of liberties, never mind the financial loss.
“We’re seeing huge restrictions on lives and a huge expense on generations of future council tax payers.”
An NHS spokesman, said: “We are delighted that once again Lincolnshire is amongst the first in the country to be offering this vaccination, as we were with the Pfizer vaccine through both the county’s hospital hub and Primary Care Networks.
“We are currently planning on increasing the number of locations for vaccinations over the coming weeks.”
South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes, said he’d look to work with Lord Porter and look into how many doses were in Lincolnshire.
“The virus does not follow the plan and that’s what’s happened with this new variant,” he said of the reasons for the new lockdown. “I know there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine, but it’s not a short tunnel and it’s going to be tough for a few months.
“It’s important we all pull together to defeat this. Our first priority should be the most vulnerable and it’s important we work to get those people what they need.
“I’m concerned about our businesses and I know how disappointed they will be.
“We also need to support the children who are not going to be in school which can make it tough for parents.
“Lincolnshire is one of the first in the country to receive both vaccines and many hundreds have already received it, be it in Boston and Peterborough.
“It’s now really important we get the vaccine in the community and closest to those that need it most.
“I’d urge anyone that urgently needs help to get in contact with my team.”
Following the lockdown announcement, the government has revealed plans for further package of financial grants for business who are having to close as a result.
Lord Porter has been vocal on social media calling for support for businesses
He said of the package: “It’s £4.5m on rateable value but it’s not only about pubs and shops, there needs to be more for the self employed and those on short term contracts.
“The economy isn’t just one bit of stuff. There’s plenty of strands in the web.
“It’s also being done on ratable values and there’s buildings with many businesses in but just one person picking up the ratable value.”
When asked if he had a message for the area’s residents, he continued: “South Holland has done a bloody good job so far and hopefully we’ll keep it up.
“Our rates are up higher than they have been but we’re still below the national average and one of the lowest in Lincolnshire and that’s down to the way people have behaved.
“I know it’s hard and people have had their lives turned upside down but generally people have behaved.
“They’re doing their best.
“Remember hands, face, space, support others and don’t take unnecessary risks.”
The lockdown has been implemented due to rising number of COVID-19 cases following a new variant of the disease being identified.
In the most recent figures South Holland had a rate of 266.3 cases per 100,000 population with 63 cases recorded in the district on December 30 alone. There’s been 113 deaths listed as having COVID-19 on the death certificate since the start of the pandemic.