Dorset healthcare services struggling to keep up with COVID vaccine programme and booster jabs

vaccineDORSET’S COVID-19 vaccine booster programme, jabs for younger people and flu vaccinations are all under pressure – because of a shortage of health staff.

It will mean residents wanting their injections having to wait longer than they might like, having to travel further or to be jabbed at times which might not suit them.

The pan-Dorset health and wellbeing board heard this week that several of its own members and their families have faced difficulties getting jabs.

Dorset County Hospital boss Patricia Miller said her husband had been struggling to get an appointment which would fit in with his work, while she will have to take their two children to Somerset to get theirs, missing a half-day at school. The only other option they were offered was in Boscombe.

“The government want people to get vaccinated at pace but they’re not thinking about the infrastructure which is required to do that,” she told the meeting.

Lyme Regis GP and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group chair, Forbes Watson, admitted that services were stretched trying to deliver the winter flu vaccination programme and COVID boosters, while at the same time extending jabs to 12-15 year olds and delivering normal day-to-day services.

“We all want this to be done… but we just have to be honest, we just cannot do all of these things at the same time because we just do not have the resource in terms of workforce to deliver this,” he said.

Both he and the county’s Public Health Director, Sam Crowe, urged people to remain vigilant, to wear face masks in crowded places and observe social distancing and good ventilation when indoors.

Dr Watson continued: “There’s an element [of believing] that we could be in a post-COVID situation, but we most certainly aren’t.

“We are still dealing with a high number of cases and the important thing to note is that while the majority is in younger people it’s now also in the older population, some of whom are already vaccinated.

Mr Crowe told the meeting that while there had been a recent dip in overall Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council area infection rates there had been a rise in cases amongst people over 60 and hospitals remained under pressure with 60-70 current admissions with COVID-19.

He said that in both the Dorset Council and BCP areas, infection rates were high, consistently above both the regional and England averages.

“Dorset has been higher than at any previous time since we started measuring positive tests but that hasn’t translated into hospital admissions… although cases remain high we are hoping that they will start to go down, perhaps as we get into December,” he said.

He told the board that local contact tracing would continue until at least the end of the year with ongoing targeted community testing and help being offered to support high risk settings.

By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins

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