By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
More mass coronavirus vaccination centres are expected to open “imminently” across the county by the end of next week.
Around 40% of elderly residents in Kent have received the first dose of the Covid jab as three large-scale vaccine hubs are due to come on stream in the first week of February to bolster the rollout, including one in north Kent.
The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which oversees the local health system, remained tight-lipped about announcing any specific locations during a virtual meeting earlier today.
Paula Wilkins, the chief nurse at the CCG, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There will be a mass vaccination centre serving the north part of Kent, which covers Gillingham and Rainham.”
She said an “imminent” announcement is expected over the next few days, adding: “Sites are being worked up and once they are confirmed we can publicise where they are going to be.”
This comes 24 hours after CCG chiefs indicated that three mass vaccine hubs will be set up in Gravesend, Maidstone and Thanet at Kent County Council’s (KCC) health scrutiny committee virtual meeting. This has not been confirmed but the Thanet site was revealed by The Isle of Thanet News last week.
If approved, these sites will have capacity for around 3,000 vaccines a day, according to the CCG.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed his government is looking to set up a mass vaccine site near the constituency of his Conservative MP colleague Rehman Chishti, who represents Gillingham and Rainham.
Kent’s first Covid vaccine hub opened at Ashford’s William Harvey Hospital on December 14. In the last month, this has “ramped up” to include four more hospitals and 69 GPs and community halls for the Pfzier or AstraZeneca jab.
On January 11, Mr Johnson said he aimed to have a first vaccine dose offered to everyone in the top four priority groups, including all care home residents and people aged over 70, 75 and 80, which is around 15 million people.
Latest figures show that 173,684 vulnerable residents in Kent received their first dose by January 24. The target is to inoculate 411,000 by mid-February.
Wilf Williams, CCG’s chief accountable officer, revealed 200,000 jabs have been delivered, but that includes people who have had a second dose.
At today’s CCG governing body virtual meeting, he said: “Pretty much all of our services are managing to squeeze out an extra dose from each vial, so we are doing well in terms of that.”
CCG bosses say that every resident will have access to a vaccine centre within a 10 mile radius by the end of the month, following the government’s pledge.
This comes amid concerns of lengthy travel for some elderly people, including some journeying 35 miles from the rural areas of Edenbridge, Sevenoaks, to a mass coronavirus vaccine centre at London’s former Nightingale Hospital.
Around 1.7million adults will need to be inoculated across the whole of Kent, including Medway. No clear timeline has been laid out for achieving this.
Patients are expected to receive a letter from the government advising them to attend their vaccine appointment.
This is excellent news, especially a site for Thanet. Keep going everyone.
Well not really.
Why all the secrecy? What does it matter if a vaccine centre is announced ahead of time?
Today the Novavax vaccine is on slipway,but the plant in Teesside started planning in February.The building up of capacity is risky if the vaccine does not work,but so far we have struck lucky.As the EU has found, it is all very well to order vaccine and to beat down the price,but if manufacturing capacity is not ramped up,how much you have paid for the vaccine is immaterial.
Why did the CCG not start planning its vaccine delivery network in February as well?
It’s like wrapping up a present for christmas,leaving it on display under the tree, but not actually buying it ahead of time.
They should not be running around looking for sites this late in the day.
In truth the CCG is being dragged out into the sunlight, because Kent is not doing too well in the vaccine roll out.
Parts of Kent are doing really well. Thanet is one of those districts doing well.Others like Dover are hardly off the starting block.
Small primary care networks/surgeries are doing really well,large ones are a curates egg.
The accountable officer inflates the figures a little but that still is only 50% of the target to be completed in 2 weeks.The figures published here work out at 42%.
Its a marathon not a sprint,but Kent at the moment is one of the back markers.
Credit where credit is due. This time last year we didn’t know we had a pandemic.
Now we have 3 vaccines approved for use in the UK, a 4th about to be brought on stream, and 3 more pre-cookedt provide millions more shots if they prove safe and effective.
I do agree that vaccine production plants should have been removed up months ago.