Councillor's two-month battle to get Covid jab for vulnerable grandson

Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou and her grandson Gabriel

Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou and her grandson Gabriel - Credit: Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou

A grandmother who spent almost two months fighting to get a jab for her vulnerable grandson says she's disappointed he "slipped through the cracks".

Broadland district councillor Caroline Karimi-Ghovanlou's 12-year-old grandson, Gabriel, is clinically vulnerable but missed a chance to get his vaccine in early September after logistical difficulties.

The government has said all children aged 12 to 15 will be offered a vaccine this autumn, mainly during school hours.

And keen to get the jab ASAP for the youngster given his weakened immune system, the Taverham North representative did everything in her power to get him vaccinated via other means — all to no avail.

A sign pointing out the Castle Quarter Vaccination Centre. Picture: Danielle Booden

The councillor said she tried every option she could think of, including the Castle Quarter vaccine centre. But they were not vaccinating anyone under 16 - Credit: Danielle Booden

She explained the long sequence of events: "Because we didn't know when the next chance to have the dose at school would be, we contacted the GP. They said they were not vaccinating children.

"I was told to call the immunisation team, which told me to call the community hospital. I rang and was asked to book an appointment for him online — which we then couldn't do because he was under 16."

Fed up with the wild goose chase, Ms Karimi-Ghovanlou went back to the doctor to complain. On September 24 she was sent an invitation to book Gabriel's jab at another surgery — but on the day it was cancelled as the surgery said it was not vaccinating children.

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In the meantime, she contacted the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital's Learning Disability Nurses to see if they could help, but that was a no.

It was also a no from the Castle Quarter clinic as staff weren't offering jabs to under-16s.

Eventually, Ms Karimi-Ghovanlou enlisted the help of Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew.

Broadland Conservative MP Jerome Mayhew. Picture: Danielle Booden

Ms Karimi-Ghovanlou eventually enlisted the help of Jerome Mayhew - who was met with radio silence for two weeks by the CCG - Credit: Danielle Booden

After two weeks the CCG eventually replied to Mr Mayhew's office yesterday to say it was running clinics on October 23 and 25 for 12 to 15-year-old SEND students who had missed their first dose in schools.

Mr Mayhew said: "Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves. As we get closer to winter it is vital we all get vaccinated as soon as possible, so I would encourage everyone who can to get vaccinated.”

Finally bagging an appointment for Gabriel this weekend, Ms Karimi-Ghovanlu said: "The process has been ridiculous and exhausting. I'm disappointed they let him slip through the cracks."

What has the CCG said?

A spokeswoman for Norfolk and Waveney CCG said: "We are sorry to hear of the family's difficulties in booking a Covid vaccine appointment.

"Rolling out vaccines on this scale to children is complex. The local NHS has been working hard to put the necessary special arrangements in place to make sure we get this right.

"This includes ensuring vaccination sites meet additional clinical and safeguarding standards and that staff have completed relevant training and checks.

“The CCG can confirm that for 12 to 15-year-olds who missed their vaccination at school, vaccines will be offered at large vaccination centres run by Cambridgeshire Community Services.

"In the coming days, it will become possible to book appointments  via the National Booking Service at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine, or by calling 119." 

School vaccination

The Norfolk programme is being overseen by the School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS). - Credit: PA

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