28th Jan, 2021

Fears over vaccine access after elderly and vulnerable told to travel to Birmingham for jab

Laura Kearns 14th Jan, 2021

FEARS over access to the coronavirus vaccine have been raised after elderly and vulnerable residents said they were told to travel to Birmingham for the jab.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has called for regional authorities to focus on involving willing healthcare professionals in the roll out of the government’s vaccine strategy and for easily accessible local sites to be opened.

Dozens of elderly and vulnerable residents have written to Mr Western concerned about letters from the NHS instructing them to travel to Birmingham for the vaccine.

Mr Western says it contradicts guidance they received from local GPs before Christmas.

Many residents over the age of 80 received a text message inviting them to book an appointment at a Leamington vaccination centre.

But many were then told there were no appointments, and in some cases, they attended only to be told no vaccines were available.

Forcing people to travel to Birmingham risks their safety and will prevent many receiving the potentially life-saving vaccine, Mr Western says.

Mr Western said: “I hope the government won’t be blaming residents or GPs if it does not meet its target. GPs and pharmacies want to deliver the vaccines locally and it is understandable elderly residents do not want to risk their health to access vaccination sites 25 miles away.

“I want government to succeed with the programme. I’ll be working with the local council and public health officials to drive volunteer recruitment as well as help find sites.

“We also need NHS staff to receive vaccines immediately, followed by schools and nursery staff.

“I asked local officials to publish a local breakdown of vaccine data on a weekly basis so that MPs are able to hold the government to account effectively. We are still waiting on these.”

The MP says there are fears government will be unable to reach regional targets if the roll out continues at the current rate.

The target for Coventry and Warwickshire by the end of March is 420,000 people aged over 50.

But as of last Friday (January 8), 24,000 vaccines had been administered in the region since the beginning of December.

Mr Western is urging residents not to call their GPs or other healthcare providers. They will be contacted when a vaccine is available.

The MP is asking any resident over the age of 80 who has not had a vaccine by Monday (January 18) to email him at matt.western.mp@parliament.uk or call 01926 882006.

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