We are understandably getting lots of people asking to have their COVID booster vaccine at Hartland Surgery.
We are not delivering these locally, so you will need to book through the national booking system online or by calling 119. We dont have an alternative way to book the booster vaccine.
Why are we not doing more COVID Vaccines at Hartland?
Unlike flu vaccines, which each GP practice has been undertaking for many years, when a new COVID vaccine program was started in Dec 2020, the government and NHS England decided that due to the complexity of vaccine storage and supply, they would only deliver vaccine “at scale” to networks of practices.
To accomodate this GP practices in North Devon were together able to hire and staff the leisure centre in Barnstaple for the frozen Pfizer vaccine, and we also expected and planned that the refridgerated Oxford Vaccine could be collected from our Barnstaple hub and then delivered from our practices, like the flu vaccine.
But when the Oxford Vaccine was made available, it was diverted locally by NHS England to the pharmacy at Westward Ho! and away from GP practices, causing chaos and cancellations of many hundreds of vaccine appointments especially for the Bideford GP practices. We were only given smaller amounts of “left over” to catch up with people who hadn’t arranged vaccine through the national system, along with the Pfizer vaccine which we delivered from the hub.
This duplication and delay of delivery meant all our GP practices were frustrated in our efforts, with our patients wondering why we were always behind with delivering the vaccine, and why we only contacted them AFTER they had booked or travelled to vaccine hubs in Wadebridge or further.
Given that we were second choice for delivery of vaccines, our Torridge Network of GP pracfices “opted out” as the first doses of vaccine delivery moved below the aged 50 group, who were much more able to travel for vaccine, or wait a little longer for local delivery. We would instead focus on getting our normal GP services back on track, after all the complexity of the previous year, which I hope we have achieved.
When the booster program was announced, the Torridge network again decided not to take part, since the hospital was now running the leisure centre, and there was ongoing provision at Westward Ho! and Wadebridge.
Given the recent upscaling and urgency for the COVID booster program, we are also frustrated at the lack of vaccine capacity and we are still looking at any ways we could try and help, but up to now there has been no flexibility in what we could deliver and for which patients. Therefore we are sorry not to be able to help further.