AS THE drive continues to get as many eligible locals their Covid booster jabs as possible, a problem has emerged with people not showing up for their booked jabs.
There has been a big push in recent weeks to get all those over 50, with underlying health conditions, or those working or living with people who are vulnerable to the virus, a ‘top up’ dose of the vaccine ahead of the winter season.
Both Fermanagh GP surgeries and local pharmacies are helping with the roll out, which is happening at speed at the moment and is coinciding with the flu vaccine programme, which is also being rolled out by both GPs and pharmacies this year.
However, it has emerged that in some areas those who have booked in for their jabs are then not showing up for their appointments.
For example, the Valley Medical Practice in Fivemiletown has been administering its flu jabs and Covid boosters on Sundays in recent weeks, but has found itself having to dispose of left over vaccines as a result of ‘no shows’.
Cllr Victor Warrington was alerted the problem when he brought a family member to the practice for a booster jab this weekend.
“I had was at the health centre and I was chatting to one of the GPs and they were doing the vaccine roll out.
“At that time, I went in at six o’clock and it was like a conveyor belt, in and out in two minutes,” Cllr Warrington told the Herald, adding the practice had over 300 booked in for jabs that day.
“At that stage there were 26 people who hadn’t turned up. The problem with that is, because it was the Pfizer vaccine they were using, it doesn’t keep. Any unused vaccine they have to throw out.
“They were frantically ringing people and trying to contact other people to try to get them used up.”
Cllr Warrington said the same thing had happened in previous weeks, and the Herald is aware of similar situations at other practices.
“I appreciate that some people would have genuine reasons for not attending, but 26 is way out of line,” said Cllr Warrington.
Cllr Warrington said the fact the vaccines had to be disposed of if not used was adding costs to the health service’s already stretched budgets, with each vaccine costing in the region of £15 each.
More than that, he said there were many people in the local community crying out for a booster jab, “and there we have potentially 26 people who could have got theirs.”
“We want to see an end to this, and obviously the booster will aid that,” said Cllr Warrington, who urged anyone eligible for a booster to avail of the chance.
To get your booster, contact your local GP or visit www.hscboard.hscni.net/booster-covid19-vaccination/ to find a list of local participating pharmacies.
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