Report by James Cracknell and Olivia Devereux-Evans
A number of GP practices in Enfield are issuing second Covid-19 vaccination jabs to patients against the advice of government, the Dispatch understands.
Several elderly people in the borough have come forward to confirm they have received their second follow-up injection of the vaccine in recent days, despite the government wanting GP practices to cancel these appointments and instead deliver a greater number of first jabs.
The government wants more people to get the first injection before a mass roll-out of second jabs because it says that doing so will provide adequate protection against Covid-19 to a greater number of people in a shorter space of time. However, NHS England guidance does allow for local practices to use “clinical discretion” in deciding how to deliver their vaccines.
Among those practices in Enfield understood to be continuing with second jab appointments for their patients are Carlton House Surgery in Tenniswood Road, Winchmore Hill Practice in Green Lanes, and Oakwood Medical Centre in Malcolms Way. Other surgeries have been cancelling such appointments in order to book more people in for their first dose of the vaccine.
Margaret Eustance, aged 80, received her second jab on Saturday along with husband Terry, aged 85, at Winchmore Hill Practice. They both have underlying health conditions. Margaret told the Dispatch: “We are very fortunate. We were happy to forego our second one temporarily if it meant there would be more people having it [but] we were offered it so we took the offer, because that was obviously the right thing to do.
“We were very impressed with the system they have – it was very safe. They have separated the surgery into two halves [to make space for vaccinations]. It was really well done.”
Winifred Mansbridge, aged 91, told the Dispatch she was due to get her second vaccine dose today, at Carlton House Surgery. “I had my first one just before Christmas,” she said. “It was very efficient. You have to wait outside but fortunately I did not get there too early.
“I was satisfied with my treatment. I was lucky to be in the first lot of people that were invited.”
Monty Meth, aged 94, is president of Enfield Over 50s Forum and got his second jab on Saturday. Although he is a patient at Oakwood Medical Centre, he was sent to Winchmore Hill Practice to get his vaccination.
“It is a hell of a job to get it [the vaccine] out across 42 surgeries in Enfield borough,” said Monty. “From my point of view they are doing a great job – I have no complaints.”
Monty added that he understood why some older people would find it “disconcerting” that others were getting second jabs while they were still waiting for theirs. “I had a member [of the forum] tell me their second jab was cancelled and she was very concerned about it.
“It seems to be left to the GPs to decide what to do.”
Nan Hutchings, 83, is another local resident to have got the second jab at Winchmore Hill, and said: “I am grateful to have had it and hope the rest of the population will get it as soon as possible.”
North Central London Clinical Commissioning Group, which organises NHS primary care across Enfield and neighbouring boroughs, was contacted for comment but has yet to issue a response.
NHS England’s official guidance sent to all vaccination centres on 30th December stated: “For those who have received their first dose and are scheduled to receive their second after Monday 4th January, the second dose appointment should be rescheduled in most instances (with clinical discretion applied locally if needed) for between three and twelve weeks’ time, with most recipients to be booked in the last week of that period.”