Vaccination of over-80s in region nears target – as unsafe doses thrown away

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine at Constable Country Medical Practice.  

Doctor Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine at Constable Country Medical Practice. - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Nine out of 10 over-80s in Suffolk and north Essex have received their first coronavirus vaccination, it has been revealed - with a small number of doses thrown away amid fears they were unsafe.

NHS teams are in the final stages of administering the first jab to over-80s, with 70% of people in the 70 to 75 age bracket in the region also receiving their first vaccines.

Data released last month showed Suffolk to have the lowest vaccination rate in the country – but that was later proved to be false, after the national NHS failed to count dose numbers from a number of GP-led sites.

It is also understood a very small number of doses have had to be thrown away for safety reasons in recent weeks, with any doses doctors fear could be ineffective or unsafe being disposed of as a precaution.

No doses deemed unsafe have been given to patients.

Reasons for this include the liquid being cloudy, or containing visible particles. However, the number of these instances remains very low and in accordance with normal medical practice.

No usable doses of the vaccine have been wasted, which includes doses delivered to Suffolk GP Federation sites with a shorter than expected lifespan.

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Doses which could have been wasted have been administered to those outside the top four priority groups – however, this again follows national guidance and remains uncommon.

The Weston Homes Colchester Community Stadium. Picture: ALEX LAWRIE

The Weston Homes Colchester Community Stadium. Picture: ALEX LAWRIE - Credit: Archant

Vaccinations are now underway at two of the 15 proposed mass vaccination sites in the region, with further centres set to open at Colchester United Football Club, Clacton Hospital and the former Riverwalk School in Bury St Edmunds.

All centres have a 45-mile catchment radius, meaning some people in Suffolk will be offered the vaccine in Essex should they live closer, and vice versa. 

A significant number of the people at these centres are in the older demographics, although it is understood the majority receiving vaccines at these centres remains those who work in health and social care.

Primary care network-run centres continue to receive doses of the vaccine in accordance to the number of over-80s they have vaccinated – although both those and Suffolk GP Federation-run centres will continue to operate in spite of larger centres with increased capacity opening.