Following recent Government and Media coverage, I thought it may be helpful to provide an insight to the COVID booster programme and to hopefully help answer some of the questions that I have been asked or seen raised on various platforms.
If you remember last December, Ivy Court were still working out of portacabins and what was still East Cross then. When the roll out of the vaccines hit, as part of PCN working we had to select a ‘designated site’ from the PCN practices (Ivy Court, Charing, Hamstreet and Woodchurch) that would then be responsible, on our behalf for all things COVID vaccine related.
Our PCN chose Charing Surgery, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kay, the Partners and all of the staff at Charing for working tirelessly throughout the last year to ensure that we have maintained a continuous supply of vaccines to give to our patients.
Then along came the booster programme – and primary care stepped up yet again to assist in protecting the patients it serves. It’s important to recognise that 75% of boosters in East Kent have been given in general practice.
However, there are still questions being asked about why appointments are not available, why walk in clinics are not being held, why 12-15 year olds are not being offered at practice level.
Each time we hold a clinic at Ivy Court we have to collect the vaccine from Charing Surgery. As the designated site they are responsible for holding all of the vaccine for all of the PCN. It would be impossible for the distribution companies to deliver vaccines to all practices nationwide.
The minute we remove the vaccine from Charing Surgery we have 6 hours to use it before the vaccine’s efficacy expires, meaning we have to destroy it. Hence the reason why, at Ivy Court we have booked appointments only. That way, we know how much vaccine to collect on any given day, at any given time. It also explains why some of you may have received a frantic telephone call from a member of staff asking you to come in within the hour if someone has not shown up for an appointment and we have a dose going spare.
The logistical protocols we have to follow with the vaccine are also the reason why we are unable to hold a walk in clinic. Should we remove too much vaccine from Charing and not have enough footfall through a walk in clinic, we then have to destroy the left over vaccine. Should there be too much footfall for the vaccine we hold, we would have to either turn patients away or ask them to wait whilst we organise an further collection from Charing (and at weekends that is not always easy as like ours, their staff need some down time too).
The 12-15 programme is a schools programme and one that we have not been involved with. We have a duty of care to provide the boosters to those that are unable to get to the surgery, and our staff across the PCN have been heavily involved in that, leaving the teenagers to be vaccinated by our school and community colleagues. Obviously this cohort are also more likely to be able to get to a mass vaccination site with the help of parents or relatives.
Of course within the last week the programme has been ramped up again, and as of Friday evening we received guidance as to what is being expected of us in order to help. We are now busy working behind the scenes with our PCN colleagues to see exactly what we can achieve and when and we will keep you updated with what is happening as soon as we have worked everything through.
But please, believe me when I tell you, the staff at Ivy Court (as well as across our rural patch) have worked so hard in delivering vaccines to as many patients as is physically possible. At Ivy Court we have administered over 2200 booster vaccines since the middle of October. They have given up weekends, evenings and altered the ‘day job’ to do this, we have enlisted volunteers to help us maintain this very valued service during the week – and if we can we will continue to do so, as like each and every one of you we want to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Finally, as 2021 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of all of the staff at Ivy Court to say a huge thank you to each one of our ever loyal patients for the understanding, consideration and support you have shown through the year. It hasn’t been the easiest of years for all of us, but we have almost come through it and should be hopeful that 2022 brings some positivity and fresh challenges.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and more importantly healthy New Year.
Very best wishes, Lyndsey