Changing the tune


In recent weeks the government has seemed rather laid back about the Covid-19 pandemic but, as infection numbers rise, the tune seems to be changing – with calls for the older and more vulnerable to get their “boosts”, and for teenagers to get jabbed. But is it that simple – and easy – to deliver?

On Tuesday this week there was a long queue at Rye’s Tilling Green vaccination centre, and on Wednesday car parking spaces had run out, ten cars were parked on the centre’s lawns, more were parked around the corner in Cooper Road, and traffic movement in Mason Road, which is one-way at the best of times because of parked cars, was becoming difficult.

So can the small Tilling Green centre be reasonably expected to cope with the government’s change of tune?

I had my first jab at the Etchingham “jab” centre (pictured) on January 28 and the second at the Hastings Ridge centre on April 9 – and my “walk-in” booster at Tilling Green on October 18 when there were no queues. But that “booster” was done when the government was still very laid back about infection rates, and the Tilling Green centre could be, and was, very quick and efficient.

A much smaller centre

But Tilling is much smaller than the Etchingham and Hastings centres were , and has much fewer car parking spaces and volunteers – and the flow of customers in the Spring to the earlier centres was by invitation and much more organised – and not a “book in” service.

So I was not surprised to hear that “walk-ins” are apparently no longer possible at Tilling Green, and I wonder how many days the centre can open for (as it had cut the number of days it was open), and whether vaccine supplies can be organised now the government has suddenly flip-flopped – admitting there are increasing problems with Covid-19 infections, and putting its foot down on the accelerator.

And it took parents and teachers raising concerns about Covid-19 disruption in schools, and NHS staff raising concerns about hospital admissions and the number of Covid-19 patients on ventilators, to get this very recent change in government attitudes.

This year’s flu jabs, on the other hand, seemed to be very well organised by GPs in my experience, and I was in and out of the Ferry Road centre at a rate of knots – but the same organisation and drive has so far been lacking at government level in respect of Covid-19 in recent weeks – and I’m not sure the Tilling centre is coping – and can cope.

Asking too much

Changing tune is easy, but changing the system is harder, and I suspect the government may be asking too much of the Tilling Green team – and others like them – and the pressures are beginning to show.

Elsewhere in this issue Rye’s Food Bank reports on pressures caused by Covid-19 infections amongst their volunteers , and there are cases like Ashford’s Member of Parliament where even those who have had all their jabs have been badly affected by Covid-19.

So we can not afford to be Covid-19 careless, and I am concerned about the number of people I have seen recently not wearing masks in crowded places like trains and shops – and clearly the queue at the Tilling Green jab centre shows many others are worried too.

But is the government asking too much of the volunteers and skilled staff who are expected to deliver jabs? That queue at Tilling suggests that perhaps they are.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

Previous articleThe Westminster toilet needs flushing
Next articleNew writer in residence at harbour


  1. Rather than speculate on whether or not the Tilling Green vaccination centre can cope it would be far better to applaude the results they are achieving. Yes it is a small centre but at least we now have a vaccination centre in Rye capable of carrying out over 500 vaccinations a day. I’m sure that most of those who have queued this week were happy not to have to go to Etchingham or Hastings. There have been sufficient volunteers at each session and they are giving a great service

    In summary, the vaccination centre IS coping and I’m sure it will continue to do so

  2. One must agree with Peter,and the volunteers are doing sterling work, on hearing people are coming in from further afield, maybe the centre should be for people living in the immediate area,and not West Kent,who have their own local sources.

  3. Dammed if they do, dammed if they don’t, these same pages complained at having to travel to Etchingham when life was tough, people were dying in greater numbers than now and it all looked pretty gloomy.
    A lot of campaigning and hard work went into setting up the Tilling Green centre and many are grateful for it, will a day or twos delay really make that much difference to getting the jab.
    As for people heading in from West Kent, that’s exactly where I and a lot of others went for my first and second jabs and no one over there seem to have a problem with it.
    To be honest I read this article and thought it was at best unhelpful with very little constructive criticism.

  4. Charles Harkness and his excellent report on our small tilling Green, and asking if it was too much for the excellent team, working with such high numbers visiting each week, and it’s good to see they seem to be coping,and quite rightly we have to be patient and wait our turn. Of course my comment of people travelling to Rye from west Kent,ruffled a few feathers, but if west Kent could accommodate so many from Rye and district,before we had a centre, I wonder why they now need to send them to Rye, being a smaller centre.

  5. Do we live in the same town? Everyone we know, including ourselves, has the highest praise for the wonderful work our Vax Centre is doing. At the beginning of October, when both the High Street chemists had no flu vaccine, and our doctor’s surgery couldn’t offer us an appointment for a fortnight, we turned up at Tilling Green one mid-morning and got them done within fifteen minutes. With the recent Covid spike in Rye, we went down there again last Wednesday for our boosters with the same speedy result. A friendly volunteers helped us to park, too. I do think it makes sense if we older members of the community go mid-day rather than at the start or end of the session, when the workers need to go. We have nothing but praise for the great work they are doing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here