Sheffield councillors seriously worried about rollout of Covid boosters and third vaccines for vulnerable people

A group of Sheffield councillors say they are deeply concerned about the rollout of Covid boosters and third vaccines for vulnerable people.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 11:08 am

Labour councillors Francyne Johnson, Ruth Milsom, Neale Gibson, Ben Miskell, Moya O’Rourke, Jack Scott and Sophie Wilson have written to Sheffield CCG following a number of “very worrying reports” from residents.

They say some people are having difficulty accessing a booster jab and that there is confusion over third primary vaccines, which are being offered to vulnerable and immunocompromised people.

The letter says: “The identification of vulnerable and immunocompromised adults is chaotic. One seriously immunocompromised resident received a confusing text message from NHS England about a third vaccine saying to contact their GP.

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Coun Francyne Johnson is one of a number of Sheffield councillors who have written to Sheffield CCG raising concerns about the rollout of Covid booster jabs and third primary vaccines

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“They contacted their practice who appeared unsure about third primary doses and said they didn’t know when the next vaccine clinic was available and they should be able to book through the online system.

“They then attempted to book online but the system said they were not eligible even though it was over six months since their second dose.

“They rang 119 who said they could not help and to go back to the GP and ask them to book them into a hospital vaccination clinic.

“They then contacted Sheffield Teaching Hospitals who said they would contact the patient back. Weeks later they still have not received a vaccination appointment.”

Coun Johnson received a priority vaccine in the first rollout because she is asthmatic. Recently she contacted her GP as she was concerned that she had not received information about booking a booster.

She said: “I rang my practice reception who said I had not been identified by this new system as eligible for a booster, unlike in the first rollout where GPs were responsible for identifying patients.

“They also said that other vulnerable people had been similarly missed. After I explained my condition and the date I received a vaccine in the first rollout, the practice was extremely helpful and booked me in at the next available appointment.

“Whilst this was a good outcome it is still deeply worrying that other vulnerable people have also been missed, particularly when it is inevitable that some will not proactively contact their GPs and will remain under vaccinated.”

The councillors say communication from NHS England is “extremely poor, confusing and substandard” and are concerned it could result in less uptake.

The letter adds: “The text message sent out to immunocompromised patients for a third primary dose does not adequately explain the need for one.

“It also fails to state that these patients will still need a booster after their third dose. This message could be very easily misunderstood to be about a booster not a third primary dose.

“The vast majority of people have never heard of third primary doses, including the immunocompromised patients who need them.

“There is clearly a huge amount of work to be done to improve awareness of third primary doses.”

Sheffield CCG and Sheffield Council’s public health department were contacted for comment.