'We will not waste vaccine' says Shropshire health boss as some appointments missed

Some patients are not turning up to coronavirus vaccine appointments, but their doses of the drug are not being wasted, a Shropshire NHS chief has said.

Vaccines are now being administered at Telford International Centre
Vaccines are now being administered at Telford International Centre

Clinical Commissioning Group Accountable Officer David Evans said vaccination centres would try to chase up no-shows, find out their reasons for missing their time and attempt to re-book.

He added that, in the short term, the doses intended for those people were either given to frontline health and care workers, called in at short notice, or the centre staff themselves.

Speaking in an online question-and-answer session hosted by Telford and Wrekin Council, he said only a “very very small fraction” of the drugs were wasted, usually due to “human error” extracting the fluid from the bottles.

Mr Evans, who holds the accountable officer role with both Shropshire CCG and Telford and Wrekin CCG, said 37,500 patients had received their first dose in the two-jab course by the end of Monday, January 25.

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Responding to a question about wastage, he said the county had “incredibly low rates”.

He said: “For example, if one of the centres is getting to the end of a clinic, with no more people coming in, or even if they’ve had some no-shows – and, believe it or not, we do get some no-shows, people not turning up to appoints – the first port of call would be the centre staff themselves.

“We could vaccinate them, even though they may be outside one of the cohort groups. I accept that, but we would rather use up vaccine.

“We will try to call people in at short notice if we possibly can, be they frontline staff or someone else, but we will make sure we use every possible dose of vaccine and don’t waste any.

“We will have wasted a very very small fraction of that and it tends to be because of some degree of human error in drawing up the vaccine, not because we had a spare dose and we couldn’t vaccinate someone. I’m absolutely sure of that.”

He said people who failed to turn up to appointments would get second chances.

“Clearly, we’d want to understand what happened,” he said.

“Is this someone who has changed their mind and doesn’t want the vaccine, and do we want to have a discussion about their reasons?

“There are always individuals who may, for their own reasons, choose not to.

“But we certainly wouldn’t say ‘you can’t have the vaccine’. That isn’t what this is about.”

Guidance published by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation splits the population into 10 priority groups.

Group one incorporates elderly care home residents and their carers, group two includes over-80s and frontline health and care workers, while the remaining categories take in younger and less vulnerable patients.

Patients will usually be contacted by the GP surgery and offered times and dates, and should not call and try to get a vaccination appointment ahead of their turn.

More information is available in the “vaccination” section of www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

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