Borough said to be among fastest in London for vaccine roll-out, reports James Cracknell
An Enfield doctor helping to co-ordinate Covid-19 vaccinations has hailed the speed of the borough’s roll-out.
Dr Ujjal Sarkar spoke to the Dispatch this week to discuss how the vaccination programme had been going so far, three months since the first Covid-19 jab.
He explained that Enfield was leading in London with its roll-out, even if North London as a whole was lagging behind. Dr Sarkar credits the speedy vaccine delivery in Enfield to a well-organised operation between GP practices and the creation of three main hubs that have allowed other medical treatments to carry on as normal.
Dr Sarkar, who is running one of the hubs at Carlton House in Tenniswood Road, said: “Enfield has been leading from the start, leading in North London and [the rest of] London.
“The three hubs at Carlton House, Evergreen Surgery and Winchmore Hill are vaccinating residents in the whole of Enfield.
“We have access to all the patients across Enfield and we are able to draw down the data for eligible cohorts and send the invitations out via text. If they don’t have a mobile, we have a central team calling people up – because we have done it centrally for the whole of Enfield it has been a success.”
Dr Sarkar works for Medicus Health Partners, which runs 14 Enfield GP surgeries, but he stressed that all practices in the borough had been able to work together and send their patients to one of the three main vaccine hubs. Some 70 vaccinators and 40 administrative staff had been brought in especially to help with the local roll-out, he added.
Dr Sarkar said that one of the other benefits of having three main hubs was that it enabled GP practices to carry on as normal, treating non-Covid related health issues without interruption.
“We have also set up ‘pop-up’ vaccine clinics,” said Dr Sarkar. “We did one at Ponders End Mosque where we vaccinated 350 people. They weren’t coming to the other sites, but at the mosque they felt safe and secure and it gave them the confidence they needed.”
Take-up rates for the vaccines among ethnic minorities have been lower across the UK and this is one of the issues now being tackled with various publicity campaigns. Enfield Council last month launched its ‘V means vaccinated’ campaign targeting hard-to-reach groups by communicating information about the vaccine in several different languages. One such event is being held tomorrow for Bulgarian residents, while another is being held on Tuesday for Turkish speakers.
Next week’s online event will be led by the council leader Nesil Caliskan, who said: “I am very pleased we are organising this important event. Vaccine uptake is crucial to prevent more deaths and ensure we can get back to normal as soon as possible.
“Given that there is a huge Turkish speaking population in London it is right that we hold this event for our residents.”
Dr Sarkar said there is no reason for any community to fear the vaccine and urged people to get jabbed as soon as they could. “This is about immunity in the community,” he said. “The only way to get out of this is to vaccinate our way out and we need everyone’s support.
“This is the only hope we have. If anyone has any concerns, just speak to your doctor and we can reassure you.”
As well as the three hubs being run by Enfield GP practices, mass vaccination centres have also been set up using pharmacies and other venues, even including the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town. These are being used to vaccinate people who fall into the priority groups for vaccinations but either haven’t been invited yet or who are not registered with a GP.
Usually a venue hosting comedy, theatre and live music, Enfield Council made the Dugdale available to support vaccination efforts in the borough, in partnership with North Middlesex University Hospital. Cllr Caliskan added: “I am delighted Enfield Council has been able to make the Dugdale available as a vaccination centre for the NHS to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic and protect our borough’s communities.
“I would urge residents to attend their vaccination appointments when they are invited by the NHS and I would encourage everyone to continue to follow the hands, face, space guidance after they have been vaccinated so that we can beat this pandemic once and for all and return to normal as rapidly as we can.
“We are utterly committed to doing everything we can to protect residents during the pandemic and we will continue to work with our partners in the NHS to keep our communities safe.”
While data on Covid-19 vaccinations is not being made publicly available by the NHS on a borough-by-borough level, making comparisons difficult, the council has stated that more than 80% of residents aged over 70, 66% of those aged 65-69 years, and 65% of the borough’s clinically vulnerable 16-69-year-olds had received their first vaccine dose.
A council meeting this week also heard that the borough total was now 83,000 vaccine first doses, representing around 25% of the total population.
If you are aged over 60 and have not yet received a first vaccine dose, you can book an appointment online:
Watch the vaccination webinars held by Enfield Council for speakers of other languages: