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Booster jabs are no panacea if we can’t access them

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA</span>
Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

I listened with incredulity to the press conference given by the health secretary last Wednesday (MPs should set example in battle against Covid, says Sajid Javid. 20 October). At no point was there consideration of how housebound people such as my elderly mother can receive their Covid booster vaccinations, or indeed their flu vaccinations. Such people are very vulnerable to infection, not least because many are reliant on peripatetic carers. Sajid Javid said there are sufficient booster vaccines for those who are eligible and that there are resources to ensure delivery. This is not entirely true.

It is now over seven months since my mother had her second Covid jab. We have been battling since mid-September to get a booster vaccine delivered; 119 handlers tell me that it is the responsibility of GPs to ensure booster vaccinations are delivered to the housebound and they cannot help. Our GP surgery has simply had my mother on a “housebound list” for the last six weeks. That list has just been shared with the community team – district nurses who are extremely busy with their normal duties. I have no faith that a Covid booster or a flu vaccination will be delivered to my mother or other housebound patients any time soon. Sajid Javid needs to urgently explore what is happening on the ground and get a grip on this issue.
Alison Coote
Sevenoaks, Kent

• At his press conference, Sajid Javid said: “We’ve got the jabs, we just need the arms to put them in.” This is just not true. Earlier last week, I tried to book my booster jab on the dedicated 119 number. I was told, rightly, to wait a couple of days as it wasn’t quite six months since my second jab. When I rang back on the correct day, the required time lapse had mysteriously become “six months plus one week”.

It is bad enough that this government won’t mandate even the most basic prevention measures that are in use all over Europe. To put all our eggs in the booster vaccination basket, without telling us they haven’t even bothered to fill that basket, is something else again.
Dr John Read
London

• Last Friday morning I received a text from the NHS advising me to book my booster vaccine as I am “at increased risk of complications from Covid-19”. It is six months since my second dose of vaccine. When I rang 119 to book, I was told that although I am eligible for a booster jab, I will have to call again to book in some “days or weeks”, because there is a shortage of vaccines. The call handler was unable to tell me how long it might be before they become available.

Government figures have been blaming the public for not booking our vaccines. Yet it now seems that the low rollout of the booster vaccine is due to a vaccine shortage that’s not being reported or rectified.
Jane Spencer
Exminster, Devon

• A slow uptake of booster jabs is not due to recipients not wanting the vaccine. It is because of the difficulty of older people getting to centralised sites. My partner’s mother lives in north Oxfordshire and is 97. When she got a letter inviting her to go for a booster, she rang up and was offered an out-of-town site in Oxford (25 miles away) or Reading. Some local sites are beginning to open and my partner eventually found a place in Banbury offering vaccines, but couldn’t get an appointment until mid-November.
Mike Williams
Swindon, Wiltshire

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