Confusion at lack of walk-in Covid-19 booster jab centres in Norfolk
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Confusion surrounds the announcement people can now turn up at walk-in vaccination sites for Covid-19 booster jabs and for children's doses - with no such centres listed in Norfolk.
Announcing eligible people could now get vaccination top-ups at centres without appointments, NHS England said almost every person registered with a GP practice lives within 10 miles of such a site.
But, according to the NHS's walk-in finder website at www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-walk-in-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-site there are no such centres currently available in Norfolk.
The website is supposed to show who can get jabs at different sites, whether it is offering boosters, vaccines for 12-15 year-olds, or anyone aged 16 and over.
From Monday, anyone eligible, who had their second dose of a coronavirus vaccine at least six months ago, was supposed to able to find a local centre where they could go to get vaccinations, including boosters.
But no centres in Norfolk are listed, with a search for sites in Norwich offering Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, some 35 miles away.
Typing in Great Yarmouth brought the offer of a jab at a pharmacy in Ipswich - more than 45 miles away, while the nearest offering to somebody in Cromer was 51 miles away at a shopping centre in Wisbech.
But health bosses in Norfolk said walk-in booster centres were not needed at this stage - although the situation would be kept under review.
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A spokesperson for NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group said the lack of walk-in venues in the county was because booked appointments were being prioritised.
She said: “Our booster campaign is well under way and more than 130,000 booster vaccinations have been delivered across Norfolk and Waveney which equates to 55pc of the eligible population.
"Our vaccination sites are very busy with thousands of appointments booked in and we continue to encourage people who are eligible to come forward as soon as they are invited.
"New clinics are regularly being added to the National Booking Service website at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119, so please be patient and keep checking if you don’t immediately see a clinic in a suitable location for you.”
She said: "In Norfolk and Waveney we’ve focused on promoting booked appointments, this is why walk in options are fewer in Norfolk and Waveney as a result of the promotion we have done over the last few week, encouraging people to book appointments via the National Booking Service."
While a vaccination bus was available in King's Lynn yesterday for people over 16 to get first, second and booster jabs, the lack of listed sites on the official website left some in Norfolk frustrated.
Among them was Bert Bremner, 72, of Morello Close in Norwich.
The former Labour city and county councillor, who had his second vaccination in April, said he had previously tried to book a booster jab via the government website without success.
So, when it was announced people could just turn up at centres, he tried to find his nearest one.
He said: "Having heard the news about just going to a walk-in centre I looked them up. The nearest available is at Bury St Edmunds.
"It is appalling. I am booked in for a knee replacement on November 27 and it would be good to have the booster in place well before then."
Mr Bremner has contacted the office of Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, to highlight his concerns.
Who is eligible for boosters?
People, who had their second dose at least six months ago, who are entitled to a booster jab are:
Those aged 50 and over
People who live and work in care homes
Frontline health and social care workers
People aged 16 and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19
Those aged 16 and over who are a main carer for someone at high risk from the virus
People aged 16 and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections.
NHS England said more than six million people have had a booster jab or a third dose - the latter is being given to people with severely weakened immune systems.
What about secondary school children?
Walk in centres are also supposed to be offering vaccinations to 12-15 year olds and parents are urged to visit the website to find their nearest centre.
But again, none are listed in Norfolk, while those in neighbouring counties are only for over 16s.
NHS England say lists will be updated each day as new sites open up.