Pensioners confused by Covid vaccine appointments booked miles away

Pensioners have been left confused by vaccination appointments being miles away from home, with others struggling to access texts and emails regarding their jab.

Mary Wilson of Eltham road, Greenwich, was told she would have to travel to the Nightingale at the Excel Centre to receive her vaccine – despite others in her sheltered accommodation being offered the jab locally.

The 84-year-old, who struggles to walk due to a broken hip and femur, was told that because she doesn’t own a mobile phone she was unable to book an appointment at a closer venue.

Michael Bryant, 83, who is a friend of Mary and lives close by, said: “The warden at her sheltered accommodation said it is very strange that Mary has got to go all the way to East London when everybody else in the flats have got appointments locally in Eltham.

“Mary queried this and, when she finally managed to get through, they said that because she doesn’t own a mobile the doctors won’t ring her home phone and instead just book her into the Excel Centre.

“My daughter is taking time out of her work to take her there, which is very inconvenient for her, but she knows Mary well and she’s very fond of her.”

Despite her concerns, Mrs Wilson said her vaccine experience was positive.

Nightingale Hospital London’s Excel Centre

“My vaccination went very well and I am really pleased,” she said.

“There was a bit of a walk to the actual place from the carpark and then I stood in the queue by the different booths. The staff were very good, I really did feel safe and I feel much more at ease now.

“I now have to wait now for 12 weeks to get the next vaccine and I will have to see if I can get one closer to my home. They said I would be better off getting one locally, but I don’t think I can.”

There has since been an announcement from two private vehicle hire firms offering discounted rides to and from major vaccination hubs across London, in a bid to help the vaccination effort.

Addison Lee announced today that anyone travelling to or from the vaccination hubs at Excel Centre (Nightingale), Wembley Olympic Office Centre or Epsom Racecourse can claim 25 per cent off their journey, while Uber has provided promotional codes up to the value of £15 for anyone travelling to or from the Nightingale.

Liam Griffin, CEO of Addison Lee said: “We understand that not everyone feels safe using public transport and at this stage many people receiving the vaccine are vulnerable.

“Our cars have been the choice for Londoners wanting to travel safely during the pandemic, and we’re using the discount so as many people as possible can travel to and from the vaccination centres in a safe and secure way.”

Mr Bryant has still not received an appointment for his vaccine, despite being in the at-risk category as an 83-year-old.

He said he is not concerned as he trusts that his GP will be in touch soon, however many have taken to social media to raise concerns over delays in the vaccine roll-out.

Earlier this month Sarah Jones, MP for Croydon Central said that delays from Royal Mail in vaccine invitations is “a real concern and needs addressing.”

Health chiefs have also warned of the new scam linked to the coronavirus vaccine that aims to get vulnerable peoples financial details and steal their money.

Dr Nicola Jones, local GP and GP lead for the roll-out of the vaccine in South West London, said: “Opportunistic scammers and fraudsters will be looking to take advantage of the roll-out.

“Coronavirus vaccines are only available on the NHS. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge – at no point will you be asked to pay. When it is the right time, you will be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you to receive your vaccine.”

Others are also calling on more to be down to regain trust in communities that may be susceptible to misinformation about the vaccine – particularly Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) residents.

NHS doctor and Tooting MP Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said: “I think a huge issue surrounding vaccine uptake at the moment is about trust.

Doctor and Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan on shift at a hospital in East London this week. Credit: @DrRosena

“Trust in the government, but also trusting the people who are going to be actually delivering it, and then trust that it’s going to work and be safe, and I think this is where community pharmacists have a huge role to play, particularly in making sure that Black and Minority Ethnic communities take the vaccine.

“It was interesting that SAGE research that came out over the weekend and showed BAME groups are far less likely to take the coronavirus vaccine, and the most diverse areas of my own community are seeing lower uptakes of the vaccine.”

Dr Allin-Khan has argued that as people have long-standing relationships with their pharmacies – with many people attending the same one for their entire lives – local pharmacies should be used as a way to tackle vaccine hesitancy and target communities where there is an issue with vaccine uptake.

One London pharmacist explained that among her staff, they can speak 78 different languages which is crucial for explaining the importance and safety of the vaccine to their diverse local communities.

Another, said he had been asked by members of the Islamic community about whether the vaccine is halal.

“These questions are not addressed by traditional government communications, but can be discussed with local pharmacists who know their communities and are trusted by them,” said Dr Allin-Khan.

 

Anyone travelling to or from the vaccination hubs at Excel Centre, Wembley Olympic Office Centre or Epsom Racecourse can use code DRIVE25 to claim 25 per cent off with Addison Lee.

Anyone travelling to or from the Excel Centre (Nightingale) can use code UberUKEX for rides up to £15 with Uber. If you are an NHS worker, you have access to up to 25 per cent off of all trips with Uber Medics.

 


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