Vaccinations move closer

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For some months we have been discussing with the NHS at various levels the possibility of providing a vaccination facility closer to Rye, and the work has been ongoing with support from our MP and the Rye mayor; and last week NHS England, which approves all pharmacy led facilities, suddenly approved the funding of a Rye Covid vaccine service, to be established in the Tilling Green Community Centre by pharmacists Hardik Desai and Ankit Tyagi from Ticehurst and St Leonards.

This will fit the future plans for delivery of the vaccine in Eastern Rother, which are likely to change, and since then we have been working hard as a group to host a local Rye facility to deliver Pfizer vaccine to those who book via the NHS National booking service – and signs have already been erected at the centre.

This new facility will draw on the experience of the Ticehurst vaccination centre, which has a similar structure to that now planned for Rye. The NHS will provide the special equipment for Pfizer vaccine as it demands very cold storage and careful handling, and the vaccine has a five day life, including delivery, before it time expires, and it has to be delivered in quantities of just under 1,200 doses. This means vaccinations of from 400 to 600 per day.

Once prepared on site, the vaccine has to be used before expiry and, as there are patients who fail to attend appointments, a local “end of the day” booking list will ensure that no vaccine is wasted. Appointments for the Rye centre will be only be through the NHS national booking system, but the Ticehurst team is working with the local community to deliver as flexibly as possible – and there has already been a video conference with the first wave of volunteers to discuss the organisation of the facility.

Volunteers needed (some paid)

The Rye service will complement the other services already in place in our area (GP surgeries, Etchingham, the Hastings Kings Centre, the Ore pharmacy as well as those further afield) and it will provide an additional and convenient capacity, not only for those in Rye and district, but also for any others for whom booking in Rye better suits.

The centre needs volunteers to work effectively and there are various voluntary and paid roles:

– Marshals: briefing given
– Registration: training provided, but needs people with IT skills
– Pfizer vaccinators: retired or current clinicians or pharmacists or dentists or those recently trained for this role; need to complete online training package (paid role)
– Cleaning: local arrangements (paid role)
– Refreshments: volunteers who know the Tilling Green centre.

It is planned to train or brief willing people to carry out as many roles as possible to enable flexibility and change during shifts.

Time to put your name forward

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AND ADVISE names to or to the REACT Facebook page, or to 07414 617484 or 07984 930315.

Individuals will then be contacted and briefed for role. Retired doctors, nurses or dentists can be training through an on line module to give the vaccine. Volunteers can give as much or as little time as they can spare. There is no fixed commitment.

With a general shortage of vaccine at present, the start date is not yet firm, but intentionally will be later this month. Information about this will be passed out on social media, initially using the REACT Facebook Page @ryeact and other local platforms, including Rye News.

Other vaccine news

The vaccine programme is now moving to the under 40s, but all those in older groups who have yet to be vaccinated are also be prioritised. Vaccinations can be booked on the national website.

For those who want or need a Covid test, a seven-day self-testing kit, can be drawn from chemists or by booking online. Many businesses also have test kits for their staff. See link here and this link.

Other Covid issues

At the last NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) meeting, in addition to the new facility in Rye, we discussed the general situation in Sussex with the vaccination programme. We asked about the state of planning for a third autumn vaccination, and were told that this was still being discussed centrally.

One important aspect was the concern about the side effects, including the very rare occurrence of blood clots, (242 clotting cases and 49 deaths, in 28.5 million doses) of the AstraZeneca vaccine. As a result the guidance is now that most adults under the age of 40, who are most at risk, will be given an alternative vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna.

What is clear is that the vaccination programme has been very successful in reducing the spread of the virus, which is challenging the projections for a possible “third wave” in the autumn. What is uncertain though is the impact of variants of the virus from India, South Africa and Brazil now occurring in UK.

Don’t drop your guard

Finally, with a further relaxation of lockdown rules expected on May 17 , and more people expected to visit the local area, the message remains that people must “not drop their guard”. “Caution” remains the key word. The government has been clear that “we don’t want to lose the progress made so far.” Until the guidance changes, please remember –  Hands, Face and Space….. and Fresh Air.

Tilling Green Community Centre

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber , Rye News library .


  1. At the height of the pandemic, when the clinics were set up with the invaluable help of volunteers, it was a commendable effort by everyone involved.
    However, I find it puzzling that we are being expected to continue to volunteer for this now established and essential service. There is money to be made – I have read £12.58 per vaccine given – and if GP surgeries can afford to offer all of their immunisation and vaccine clinics without reliance on an unpaid workforce the same should be possible of covid vaccine centres.
    I know this assertion may not be congruent with the pride and admiration that is felt in respect to all that has been achieved, but 400 vaccines will potentially yield a reward of over £5,000. With only the vaccinators and cleaners being offered a (meagre) reward from this generous income, this could be another example of how the pandemic brought great financial gain to a few.

    • The GP remuneration model has been controversial for years. Time was GPs suffered the perception of inferior medical practice compared to acute hospital consultants and those employed in research positions. The restructuring of the health authorities and 2012 Health and Social Care Act did much to reverse this “perception” with GP pay related to performance and number of patients etc. GP salaries became stratospheric. But this did not lead to increases in pay for surgery staff or any of the teams that surgeries rely on. Perhaps is can be understood more as part of the cultural change we have all experienced where medicine is no longer a vocation for those with a mission of mercy to mankind and politicians are no longer motivated by desire to improve the world.

  2. Now all us oldies have had to travel miles in the dreadful weather to have the vaccinations the young can just pop in with the sun shining without any bother & be sorted out.

  3. Sorry Christopher & Janet that you didn’t come with us – our passengers (about 350 for first vaccinations and so far just under 300 for second) thoroughly enjoyed their trip out whatever the weather, and 2nd timers have really appreciated the change in the countryside this spring (the bluebells on Haremere Hill, first appeared 13th April, are, in our view, the best we’ve seen this year). Just a pity we couldn’t serve tea and cakes! Bet you the youngsters won’t be especially prepared to walk to Tilling Green Centre…


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