Concerns raised after Berwick residents offered Covid booster jabs more than 50 miles away

Concerns have been raised about eligible residents being offered Covid booster jabs more than 50 miles away.
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Some residents from the Berwick area have been offered slots in Ashington, Cramlington and Newcastle after going online to book an appointment.

It comes as people aged 65 and over and those with weakened immune systems are invited to get their autumn vaccination.

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Health chiefs have now provided reassurances that residents will soon be able to get their Covid booster jabs closer to home without the need for an hour long drive.

Concerns were raised after Berwick residents were offered Covid booster jabs more than 50 miles away.Concerns were raised after Berwick residents were offered Covid booster jabs more than 50 miles away.
Concerns were raised after Berwick residents were offered Covid booster jabs more than 50 miles away.

However, there was criticism of the ‘unnecessary concern and stress’ the situation has caused.

Cllr Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East on Northumberland County Council, said: “I have had a number of residents contact me to say that they have been offered Covid boosters jabs in Ashington and other places over 50 miles away.

“It is good to know that the NHS are now increasing the appointments and local ones will be available but they really should have made that clear from the beginning.

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“It has caused unnecessary concern and stress to elderly and vulnerable people.”

Cllr Isabel Hunter, member for Berwick West with Ord, added: “Again, residents in the north of the county are being penalised for where they live.”

She also highlighted the difficulty in getting to south-east Northumberland using public transport for those unable to drive.

NHS bosses say GP practice or community pharmacy appointments will be available ‘in the coming weeks’ and have called for patience.

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A spokesperson from the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the North East said: “We are delighted that so many people are coming forward to book their COVID-19 vaccine to get protected ahead of winter.

“We want to reassure people that we are increasing appointments so that everyone can get their vaccination in either a GP practice or community pharmacy. Please don’t worry, more appointments will become available in the coming weeks.

“Can we take this opportunity to remind people that there are three ways to book their COVID-19 vaccine; through the National Booking Service, through calling 119 and through their GP. Please don’t call your GP, they will invite you to come forward.”

Frontline health and social care staff are also now able to book their autumn booster in line with JCVI guidance.

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Dr Kev Smith, regional director of Public Health Commissioning, said: “Since the first Covid-19 vaccine was given in December 2020 it has saved lives, helped tens of thousands of people stay out of hospital and made it safer for us all to live with the virus.

“Covid-19 is still with us and people can still become very ill. Having your booster jab will ensure you continue to have the best protection against Coronavirus during the winter months.”

For maximum protection, the Covid vaccination must be at least three months after the previous dose.

Dr Yvette Oade, regional medical director, for NHS England North East and Yorkshire, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of vaccination in protecting us from serious illness.

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"The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from serious illness is to get the newly-approved, next generation Covid vaccine when invited to do so – as well as your annual flu jab – to ensure you have maximum protection.

"The autumn booster will top up the immunity of those most vulnerable to Covid ahead of winter to help us all continue to live with this virus without restrictions.”