Access to second covid jabs

Like the rest of the country North Tyneside is in a race against the ‘Delta variant’ of Covid-19. Our task is to get second jabs to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

Last night I attended the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This meeting brings together a dozen or so councillors who are tasked to keep a watchful eye on what is going on in crucial areas of service delivery. The two main agenda items were the Pandemic Recovery Plan and a report into Outsourcing arrangements. In this post I focus on the first of these two items.

As we were taking our seats at 6pm the Prime Minister was commencing his Downing Street press briefing at which he announced a 4-week extension to coronavirus restrictions. Taking his cue from the country’s top scientific advisors he argued that the delay in relaxing restrictions was necessary because of the limited protection that a single jab offers against the new Delta variant. The level of protection offered is estimated at between 30-36% with one jab, but that protection more than doubles to 67-88% after two jabs. [source]

Scrutiny Committees are designed to offer the opportunity for direct questioning by elected councillors of council officials. We get to prod and probe on behalf of you, the residents of the borough. This is one of the important ways in which we ‘represent’ you. The question I felt most important to ask was directed to the senior manager of the Public Health team who was present. I asked him to tell us how the council and its partners in the NHS and local pharmacies would be adapting to make it easier for local people to get their second jab. In particular I wanted to know whether we would change our policy around the 16 locations in the borough where vaccines are available. So far the policy has been that these locations provide first jabs only. I think this needs to change in line with the evolving nature of the threat.

My request was built on the belief that we need to empower local residents to be able to act in accordance with their own assessment of the risk that the virus poses to them. They know their own lifestyle, their pattern of family, work and social life, who they come into contact with on a day to day basis. Also, in terms of the age-related risk profile that covid represents I believe that there is a sound case for some groups obtaining their second dose even before others have had their first. Clearly our ultimate goal is for everyone to get double jabbed as soon as possible but we are where we are and therefore being agile in our approach will keep us one step ahead of the virus.

I was assured that the local pharmacies delivering vaccines would not turn away residents requesting second vaccines, provided the standard conditions are met (minimum eight weeks from first vaccine, no ‘mix and match’ of vaccines). I was also assured that relevant page on the council website will be updated to reflect this as soon as possible. That hasn’t been done yet. I’m keeping an eye on it and will post the link as soon as it goes live.


Link to the Council’s refreshed guidance:

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