Since opening on May 27, as at last weekend the Rye Vaccination Centre in Tilling Green had delivered around 4,000 first dose Pfizer vaccines, mostly to local younger people. This is testimony to the work of the Ticehurst (Clarity) pharmacy team. The vaccinators who come from various clinical backgrounds and around 50 volunteers.
The centre is taking great care with those who are needle phobic or with other anxieties, resulting in much positive feedback: “Thank you for organising the vaccination centre”; “Everyone is so friendly thank you”; Thank you for the care”.
One regular volunteer, Heidi Foster said that “it was a pleasure to chat with some of the young patients who are genuinely grateful for the local service.” She emphasised that we have to say a big thank you to the many Rye volunteers giving their time and effort in support of the Ticehurst (Clarity) Pharmacy staff who are “superb”.
Last weekend, we saw Sally-Ann Hart MP in the centre, who had lobbied at ministerial level for a facility in Rye. This provided valuable support for our own efforts at county level and with NHS England. She arrived during peak activity on Saturday afternoon (called by some press as Vaccination Saturday because so many people had booked appointments) and was able to speak to many in the Centre including Ankit and Tejas who lead the clinical team.
Good progress with the local vaccine delivery is tempered by some rather gloomy news from the prime minister who this week has warned of a “rough winter” ahead because of the 37 per cent rise in the number of daily Covid cases week on week. This increase is mostly from the Delta variant of the virus. There is also news of a Delta Plus variant in India. In addition to the pandemic we can expect a return to winter flu, suppressed during the lockdown.
In Rye, we are expecting to start second doses of Pfizer from mid-July. Most patients are booking via the national booking site and selecting the Rye option. Others have asked by direct message to “walk in” or attend as “end of day” patients. It is worth reminding that those booking via the national booking site need to have patience; decline other locations and persevere for the Rye option.
On Monday we joined the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group video conference to hear about the latest vaccination developments in Sussex. We learnt that there are still 80,000 people in Sussex in the higher risk older group who, for various reasons, have not been vaccinated. We discussed communications to encourage not only the older groups but also younger people down to 18 to get their jabs. Our use of Facebook (@ryepfizer) – now less used by younger people – has had some success in getting the message out. A large number of younger people have contacted us via direct message through our Facebook page to seek advice on access to the Rye Centre. By adopting a flexible approach to delivery, so far no vaccine has been wasted in Rye.
Autumn booster jabs
Plans for a Covid booster jab (third jab) programme in the autumn are expected to be set out in the next few weeks. The government has said that it is waiting for results from trials (UK’s Covid-Boost trial) of different combinations of vaccines before making any announcement. It remains to be decided whether children will be vaccinated. In parallel with the Covid booster programme will be the winter flu vaccination programme.
Volunteers still needed
To operate efficiently, the Rye Centre needs volunteers. Those who have joined – as marshals and for registration – are enjoying the experience. Vaccinators should have some clinical experience and will be paid. Training and briefing is given for everyone committing to the centre. Any names please email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us via our Facebook pages @ryeact or @ryepfizer or to 07414 617484 or 07984 930315. There is no fixed commitment. Volunteers can give as much or as little as they can manage. Once in contact, there are WhatsApp groups to link volunteers and vaccinators to the facility.
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .