‘Unprecedented demand’ on North Wales GPs means most won’t take part in Covid vaccine booster programme
People eligible for a coronavirus booster jab are being advised they “may need to travel slightly further” for their vaccine due to “unprecedented demand” facing primary care services.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is currently contacting individuals over the age of 50 and in the initial nine priority groups and inviting them to come forward for their third dose of the vaccine.
Unlike the initial stage of the rollout, all those being invited for their booster will be offered a Pfizer vaccine regardless of what they have received previously.
However, those eligible are being warned that they may have to travel further to receive their jab due to many GP practices not taking part in the booster programme.
This is due to the “unprecedented pressure” being faced by primary care at the moment.
Ffion Johnstone, West Area Director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: “During the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, we were incredibly grateful for the expertise of our primary care partners, whose support ensured that many people were able to receive their first and second dose jabs at their local GP surgery.
“Primary care services are currently facing unprecedented demand, as well as the challenge of administering flu jabs to people across the region.
“For this reason, the majority of GP surgeries will not be taking part in the booster programme. As a result, those eligible may need to travel slightly further to receive their booster jab.
“Although we are using a smaller number of vaccination locations, we are well placed to roll the booster vaccine out at speed.”
Those eligible for a third coronavirus vaccine, which is being administered a minimum of six months after the second dose, are also being urged to wait until they’re contacted and to not try and make an appointment themselves.
Ms Johnstone said: “The JCVI recommends that people most vulnerable to serious infection should be offered a COVID-19 booster vaccine, if a minimum of six months have passed since their second dose.
“Please note that this does not mean that people should expect a booster jab appointment as soon as six months have passed since their second dose.
“In line with JCVI guidance, we are inviting those eligible for a booster jab based on the same priority order as the first phase, provided at least six months have passed since their second dose.
“We ask those who are eligible to please be patient and remember that there is no need to contact us to book an appointment.
“Please don’t contact your GP surgery to enquire about your booster jab, unless you have been invited to do so. You will be contacted by the health board by letter and text message when it is your turn.
She added: “Our COVID-19 Vaccination Contact Centre is currently experiencing a high volume of calls from people enquiring about their booster vaccine, or wishing to reschedule an appointment.
“Please help us get the vaccine into people’s arms as quickly as possible by waiting for an appointment invitation in the post. If you haven’t received an appointment, our COVID-19 Vaccination Contact Centre will not be able to book one for you.
“Once you receive an appointment, please make every effort to keep to it.”
This week also saw the vaccine rollout begin for healthy 12-15-year-olds across the region.
Anyone who has yet to receive a first dose of the coronavirus jab is also being invited to come forward, with Ms Johnstone saying “it’s not too late to come forward.”
She added: “As we enter the winter months, we want to remind people that it’s not too late to come forward for a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s also vitally important that those who have had their first dose receive their second, eight weeks later, in order to receive the very best protection.”
Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com