Rollout of first Covid-19 vaccines slows in Dacorum as second dose becomes priority
Local health leaders were told to focus efforts on the top priority groups
The number of residents who received their jab in Dacorum has slowed as the NHS prioritises giving the second dose to those who have already received their first dose.
Data from NHS England shows that 675 first doses of the vaccine were administered in Dacorum in the week to April 11 – 1,443 fewer than the week before and the lowest in the preceding five weeks. But in the week up to April 18, 1,752 first doses of the vaccine were administered in the borough.
Across England, 355,000 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were administered in the week to April 11 – the lowest number in five weeks and 47% fewer than the previous week.
But the number of people receiving a second dose of the jab increased by 608,000, to 2.1 million people. Numbers for second doses are not available locally.
Local health leaders were told to focus efforts on the top priority groups in a letter signed by Dr Nikita Kanani, medical director for primary care for the NHS in England, and Emily Lawson, chief commercial officer.
The Nuffield Trust said the slowdown, however, had not affected the ability to reach vaccine targets.
Helen Buckingham, director of strategy, said: "In March, the Government warned that the rate of vaccinations would slow down due to supply constraints and we’ve seen that happen in line with that warning.
“The programme has exceeded expectations thus far, and continues to do so, with well over half the adult population now having received a first dose, and all vulnerable groups offered an appointment.
"It is good to see that appointments for those aged over 45 have started earlier than anticipated, and that self-referrals for care workers will restart next week.
"The slow-down therefore has not affected the ability to meet stated targets and there are no indications that it will. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that vaccine uptake is lower among some groups.
"Both the NHS and the Government must continue to work hard to ensure that any concerns are addressed and the vaccines themselves are accessible to all."
Dr Corina Ciobanu, GP Chair for Dacorum Locality said: “The vaccination programme is progressing well. We have now offered the vaccine to everyone in the top nine priority groups and have started first dose vaccinations for people aged 45 to 49.
"GPs are continuing to contact patients about appointments at the Maxted Road site in line with vaccine supplies. Eligible patients can also book an appointment at other local vaccination sites at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119.
“Although we’re seeing a short-term slowdown in supplies, we have been able to guarantee appointments for second vaccinations when these are due as well as continuing to offer first doses for eligible patients.
"Since last month we have also been working to vaccinate groups with particular needs including taking the vaccine out to housebound patients as well as to accommodation for homeless people and a woman’s refuge and have run a separate vaccination day tailored to the needs of patients with a learning disability.
"We’d like to thank local councils and Community Action Dacorum who have supported this work.
“The vaccine is safe, effective and helps protect you and your loved ones from Covid, so we would urge everyone who’s eligible to take up the offer of the vaccine, and to attend their second dose appointment when it’s due.”
NHS England warned last month that supply issues would mean priority for the jabs would be given to those in the high-risk groups and for second doses.
A delay in deliveries from India and the need to retest a batch of 1.7 million doses is behind the issues with vaccine supply in April.
But, Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning, who volunteers at the vaccination centre on Maxted Road, says there are plenty of vaccinations locally.
He said: "The priority is to get those who are due a second jab done within the time frame. But there is certainly not a shortage of vaccines at the centre.
"I was there yesterday and we had two types of vaccine and they were administering both to people, and there were people having the first and second jabs.
"The vaccine is certainly available for people.
"So if you are eligible please don't think there is a shortage, as there is not."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “Our vaccination programme continues to make phenomenal progress – with over 40 million vaccines administered so far across the UK.
"We have hit our target to offer a vaccine to everyone in phase one of the vaccination programme and we are on track to offer a jab to all adults by the end of July.”