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 .