Banburyshire Mum calls for re-opening of town centre Covid vaccination hub as her 18-year-old struggles to get a jab
A Banbury area mum has asked for a rethink on the closure of the town centre vaccination hub at Castle Quay after struggling to help her teenage daughter get a jab.
Gail Miller praised the work of the NHS in delivering the Covid-19 jabs but she believes take-up would be better if there were more local vaccination centres. She has suffered frustration trying to get her 18-year-old daughter to a centre for her second vaccination.
"My 18 year old daughter needs her second jab. She is studying for A-levels and has important exams coming up and my husband and I work full time. I have checked several times a week to see where we can book in for the second vaccination - her first was in Banbury.
"What is on offer is often Oxford, Evesham, Alcester, Oxford, Coventry, Rugby and Northampton. Today the list on offer is Leamington Spa (only date available in mid December), Oxford, Kenilworth, Oxford x 2, Alcester, Oxford, Coventry, Northampton x 2 and Rugby.
"Those centres on offer to us are not accessible by public transport. People want to get vaccinated but these must be accessible and local for this to work best. If her school does offer vaccinations she will not be able to get one there; over 18s must go to a vaccination centre.
"Yesterday I received a letter saying I was eligible for my flu jab. All I need to do is contact my GP or local pharmacy. Why after all the brilliant work on the Covid-19 vaccinations have we not got a centre in Banbury? Currently, we are limited to finding time to travel, probably to Oxford and so adding to the traffic problems there, having to drive as there are no other options (ironic when looking at COP26) and it may be several weeks in the future."
A spokesman for Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said: "Two GP-led sites are offering COVID jabs: Banbury Cross Banbury Cross Health Centre and Banbury Alliance Primary Care Network which covers Windrush Surgery (Banbury), Hightown Surgery, Woodlands Surgery and is running clinics at Grimsbury Community Centre. Both PCNs are working their way through their lists of eligible patients as quickly as they can while balancing the need for offering 'business as usual' services.
"In addition there are two community pharmacies in Banbury which are offering appointments via the National Booking System. Appointment availability is updated regularly so please keep checking.
"Walk-in jabs are available seven days a week at the Kassam Stadium where people who work during the week can attend on Saturday/Sunday. There is no need to book. Opening times can be found on the OCCG website https://www.oxfordshireccg.nhs.uk/your-health/covid-19-vaccination-programme.htm or on the Oxford Health website https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/news/coronavirus-covid-19/"
Mrs Miller said: "I really do not think the response from the OCCG is sufficient to get the vaccine programme and booster jabs on plan and for many people is just not accessible. From the answer given these are most likely for those people who have underlying health conditions and will need the boosters as immunity wanes as they are most at risk. This is absolutely the right focus for those centres and I understand that GP services needed to get back to some sort of normality.
"I have looked to book in the last few weeks and the two community pharmacies have never come up as options.
"The Kassam Stadium has plenty of availability but it is 35 miles and a 50-minute drive each way. Via public transport, it is a two-hour journey. If I wanted to use public transport or had no other option, there are no buses where I live in to, or out of Banbury on a Sunday.
"Last time I went to a walk in centre (Banbury Utd Football Club) there were no vaccines left and it had shut up shop early. Whilst I do not think that situation would happen again, there is always the risk of someone making the journey to a walk-in centre and the staffing is not available. Far better for the majority to book (although it's great that there are walk-in centres) so that the services can plan and staff correctly and most efficiently.
"A big drive on this with more local centres would put the region in a much better place and safeguard people, and the NHS, for Christmas and into the winter. Decisions are often thought to be rather Oxford centric. Oxford needs its vaccination centres. According to the data Oxford city has 65.5 per cent having had the first dose and only 58.3 per cent having had a second dose but Banbury and the surrounding areas need their own. The new (temporary closed) testing centre would surely be better as a vaccination hub?
"The Prime Minister talks about the issue with the vaccines and boosters being the demand, not the availability. If the availability is not in the right place people cannot access it," she said.