‘At the beginning of the vaccination rollout the local health authority press releases made no mention of North Devon. Immediately, behind the scenes I was in contact with our Clinical Commissioning Group, who are managing the vaccination rollout and received assurances that we, in the north of Devon, would not be left behind, words were not enough, and we needed to see it. I believe that we are seeing an equitable roll out, it clearly has not been as fast as we would like and it is very difficult to see and hear about other areas that may, on in some cases may not, be receiving vaccines at a faster rate that we are. Measuring one geographical area with another very different geographical area is not easy and the results can be presented to be very misleading.
Devon has over 86,000 in the over 80s category as well as 330 care homes, making it a huge task to ensure everyone is reached. There is now a mass vaccination centre in Exeter, as well as our own smaller version in Barnstaple. Some pharmacies are also beginning to deliver vaccines as well as our GPs, who are being prioritised for the vaccine as far as is practicable. But as the Minister responsible has said repeatedly, supply remains bumpy across the entire country.
There are enormous logistical challenges in rolling out the vaccine, particularly in a sparsely populated, rural location like North Devon. It is testament to the incredible work of our local GPs, NHS and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) that by the end of this week, all our care homes and staff will have received their first vaccine, as well as the over 80s.
We are already seeing those in the next categories being invited to have their first dose as well. Some people are receiving letters inviting them to the West Point Centre in Exeter. To be clear, this is a direct invite from the NHS and you do not have to take up their offer as you can wait to be seen through your local GP. However, if you are willing and able to travel, every person getting their vaccination in Exeter will release an appointment slot for somebody who does not have the ability to, or is concerned with travelling so far.
If you are in the over 80s group and have not heard anything to date, please do not contact your GP, but feel free to email your details to my office who will be collating this information and forwarding to the CCG to ensure no one is missed. Please include your name, address, GP details, date of birth and a contact telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.’
Please do have a look at the latest briefing as this may answer any further Covid related questions.