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Surrey’s Vaccine Supply Line Is Strong, Say Healthcare Commissioners

Published on: 26 May, 2021
Updated on: 28 May, 2021

Covid Vaccine Photo Hakan Nural

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The vaccine supply levels across Surrey are in good shape, say the people who buy its healthcare services.

NHS Surrey Heartlands clinical commissioning group (CCG), which covers most of the county, said last week saw the highest number vaccinated in a week so far, with a combination of both first and second doses given.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced two weeks ago that, to protect people from the Indian variant, all over-50s should get their second jab within eight weeks of the first, rather than 12.

At that point a 56-year-old key worker in mid-Surrey had already been waiting 11 weeks.

She would have to wait a further two weeks to have the second Pfizer injection.

But a spokesperson for the CCG said the number of people who had waited over 12 weeks was “very low, estimated at less than two per cent… which shows fantastic commitment from both patients and our services to get these done”.

“There is no issue with vaccine supply,” she said. “Waiting times for those in the top nine priority groups are being brought forward, from 12 to eight-nine weeks, that is everyone aged 50 and over and those with long-term conditions.

“Vaccine supply remains strong and the recent confirmation regarding extended fridge storage for Pfizer is welcomed and will assist us with continuing to work in accordance with national guidelines.”

Meanwhile, two 26-year-olds in Oxted with no underlying health conditions were delighted to be get their first Pfizer injections at Tandridge District Council’s headquarters last week.

They were invited by their GP, because reportedly few bookings from the current age bracket meant the doses would have otherwise gone to waste. But they had to attend within two days of the invite.

A CCG spokesperson said: “The vaccinations haven’t been opened up officially to the under 30s yet.

“The programme will continue to open up and invite those in the younger age groups which is those aged 30 and above as of today (May 26).”

The service at Epsom Downs Racecourse transferred to Sandown Park Racecourse at Esher earlier this month.

According to Public Health England data, the variant that originated in India is spreading far quicker than other imported variants.

See also: Indian Variant Cases Discovered in NE Hampshire

So it has been questioned whether the AstraZeneca jab could be back on the cards for people aged under 40, if the risks of being unvaccinated will as a result outweigh the risks of developing a rare blood clot.

But Surrey Heartlands CCG says it is continuing to follow the guidance of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and is using Pfizer and Moderna in preference to AstraZeneca for under-40s, as well as pregnant women and anyone else thought to be at higher risk from rare AstraZeneca side effects.

NHS Frimley CCG, which includes Farnham and Ash, has not yet responded.

For information on the nine priority groups see here.

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