THE NHS says the vaccination programme in Somerset is “making very good progress” – despite only giving the jab to around half of over 80s by January 21.
Figures are released weekly on the NHS England website, and although Somerset is now “on track”, only 56.6 per cent of those over 80 had been given their first vaccine dose by January 21.
Compared to other regions, this was somewhere in the middle. It was not as high as Gloucestershire (85.3%), but also not as low as Suffolk and North East Essex (36%).
The total number of doses given out in Somerset by January 21 was just 45,713 – the second lowest number of doses, compared with the rest of the UK.
However, according to the latest figures (released on January 28), 81.9 per cent of people over 80 had received their first dose.
Despite the slow start, the Somerset NHS Foundation Trust now believe they will be able to vaccinate all older care home residents by the end of January, and those in the first four priority groups by the middle of February.
“GPs, nurses, pharmacists, doctors, volunteers, administrators, marshals and many more are all working together to make this possible and we are enormously grateful for their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to support the roll out of our vaccination services across the county,” a spokesperson for the trust said.
“We are on track to meet the Government target to offer a vaccine to all older care home residents, aside from those whom we cannot vaccinate for clinical reasons, by the end of January and to vaccinate those in the first four priority groups by the middle of February, subject to receiving our expected deliveries of vaccines and other consumables.”
So far, the NHS has given out 77,554 doses of the vaccine in Somerset – but this is still the fourth lowest region in the UK.
And 31,358 people aged 80+ and 39,734 people under 80 have received the first dose of the vaccine.
There are now 18 sites across the county that are offering vaccinations.
These include 13 GP-led hubs, two hospital hubs (Yeovil and Musgrove), two vaccination centres (Taunton Racecourse and Royal Bath and West Showground) and a pharmacy site in Yeovil.
At the moment, the coronavirus vaccine is being offered to residents and staff in care homes, frontline health and social care workers, those aged 70 and over, and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
“We are making good progress to offer a vaccine to people in these first four priority groups and are monitoring our progress daily,” added the spokesperson.
“This is part of a planned, phased roll out – different areas of our county are at different stages, largely as a result of when vaccinations began in those areas.
“For many of the vulnerable people we have met since we began vaccinations in Somerset, getting their jab is a real sign of hope and optimism. While everyone needs to continue to observe the lockdown guidance, wash their hands, cover their face, and maintain their social distance, it is a real pleasure to deliver this service to the people of Somerset.”
Many Somerset residents have praised the organisation of the vaccine programme in the county.
One resident said: “I want to give enormous thanks to Somerset CCG, my lovely GP Practice in North Curry, Taunton Vale Surgery and the Royal Naval medical team who are vaccinating at TVS. Your organisation is superb and you are all so helpful and friendly.
“With a phone call one evening and an appointment given for the next day there was not the tiniest hitch. Timings perfect, utterly courteous staff, jab done in seconds, every piece of necessary information given. What an amazing and wonderful team.”
Another added: “The experience I had regarding my vaccination was very good. I was phoned by my surgery and given a time and date to go.
“I had to wait in the car until two minutes before my appointment and then was given a new mask, signed in, saw a nurse who asked me a few questions and then I had the vaccine.
“I had to wait in another room for 15 minutes before I was allowed to leave.
“Thank you NHS, it was so well organised.”