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Dorking Pharmacy Taking Proactive Approach to Prevent Vaccine Wastage

Published on: 19 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2021

Frith Pharmacy in South Street, Dorking – Image Google Street View

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

It would seem the best way of getting your coronavirus vaccine in Dorking is to hang around South Street in the late afternoon.

Frith Pharmacy has had so many vaccines leftover because of no-shows they have taken to rounding up people off the street at the end of the day.

They’re jabbing between 60-80 people a day, but as the eligibility has fallen to younger age groups they say they have been “taken by surprise” at the numbers not turning up for appointments.

And they said a fear of needles had meant others were not able to go through with it once through the door.

Covid Vaccine Photo Hakan Nural

But the pharmacy is proud to be able to say they have not wasted a single dose, though this has meant taking the more unusual approach of seeking out passers-by to take the life-saving jab that is so sought after by some.

Pharmacist Georgina Frith, whose father started the business on South Street, said: “To be honest I’m utterly appalled by the number of people who don’t turn up, it’s been around 10 per cent each day.

“It’s been quite an eye-opener, since we’ve gone down the age groups.”

“All the appointments were snapped up quite quickly,” she added.

Some people had left because “we didn’t have the right one”. They are giving Moderna as a first dose or AstraZeneca to the over-40s as a second dose.

They started vaccinating in May when the schedule had reached the over-50s and now anyone aged 18 and over can get the jab.

“We’ve managed not to waste a single one,” said Georgina. “But it has been hard work.”

She also said they had had “quite a number of calls from people confused by the system”, for example not knowing they had to book the second dose at the same time as the first, and “people turn up thinking they have appointments when they don’t”.

“The work that’s gone on logistically, the NHS has done an incredible work behind the scenes,” she said.

“It’s not been easy trying to keep up with the latest information, as supplies alter and the advice from the JVCI. Sometimes we don’t find out until everybody else watching the 10 o’clock news.”

Dorking resident Alex Boyd said the NHS site had a waiting list to get a vaccine in the market town. He said: “I’m going to Beare Green because the Dorking centre was booked up for at least two weeks, but then it turns out they have spares every day.

“So it seems the best tactic is just to loiter in the town centre just before 6pm.”

Staff at nearby Sainsbury’s and Waitrose were also being offered leftover doses, which can only be kept for up to six hours.

Wesley Green, assistant section manager at Waitrose, said: “It’s a good idea. Every evening we send three or four along, whoever’s free at the time. It’s only a couple of doors down and takes ten minutes.

“We want our workforce to be getting it too and a lot of our staff are young people so everyone’s really happy to do it.”

To get on the reserve list for a coronavirus vaccine at Frith Pharmacy, call 01306 882728 and be available when they call.

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