The haves and have-nots in vaccination rollout | Letters

Karen McCarthy on the different vaccination priorities in largely white, affluent suburban areas and more diverse inner-city ones, and Jane Coward on jumping the queue. Plus letters from Charles Barker and Dr Ray Jones

Further to Dr Deborah Colvin’s letter regarding Hackney (4 February) and that of Honor Cooper (5 February), here in Greater Manchester there is clearly a difference between the rollout of vaccinations in largely white, affluent suburban areas and more diverse inner-city areas with poorer health indices.

GP lists in the former have fewer people in the higher priority groups, to the extent that even two weeks ago, people in their 50s with no underlying health conditions were being offered vaccinations by at least one surgery that had already completed the vaccination of patients from the priority groups. Meanwhile, in the inner city, at least one centre is still only on group four and was closed for a day due to lack of vaccines in the past week.

Surely, for equity, once a GP practice has offered vaccines to its most vulnerable patients, supplies should be diverted to those centres that have greater numbers in those vulnerable groups rather than be offered to those who are less vulnerable? In these times of databases, it must be possible to monitor these anomalies and address them speedily.

I also question the rollout of vaccines to staff in, for example, various local government services, who have been working from home since last April and who will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Why them and not the police, or teachers?
Karen McCarthy

• I was interested to read the letter from Dr Deborah Colvin. Last Wednesday, I accompanied my 73-year-old husband to a centre in the south-east for his vaccination. On seeing only a few vaccine receivers around, I asked if they had any spare. They asked my age (64) and circumstances (I am the main carer for my father aged 93). The latter got me a jab, which they were happy to give and me to receive. I am no advocate for queue jumping, but if there is no queue it is surely better to use the capacity there is on the day.
Jane Coward
Tunbridge Wells, Kent

• Martin Kettle is right to point out where the credit really lies for the successful vaccine rollout (Johnson is on the crest of a vaccine wave. Labour will just have to ride it out, 3 February), but he forgets one group of people – volunteers.

In just one corner of Coventry, there are 85 people on a seven-day rota, happy to be paid nothing to act as car park attendants, to staff a reception desk, wipe down surfaces, and generally help sometimes confused people to get the jab, which is administered by local medical staff and pharmacists.

This is all locally organised and locally run – a wonderful coming together of communities up and down the country, and absolutely nothing to do with Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock. Contrast this with the government funnelling huge amounts of money to their chums via the so-called fast-track procurement approach, which was criticised by the National Audit Office.

If the vaccine volunteers in Coventry are typical they don’t want praise – that’s not why they do it. But to see Johnson/Hancock taking the credit is galling indeed.
Charles Barker

• Serco-led centralised test and trace has been an expensive profiteering disaster. NHS-led and locally delivered virus vaccination programme has been world-beating. Any lessons to be learned here?
Dr Ray Jones
Chepstow, Monmouthshire


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