Council and health bosses have outlined the scale of the challenge facing local services to rollout the NHS Covid-19 booster vaccination announced overnight by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Concerns on where new vaccine centres will open and if people will be able to book an appointment close by are some of the issues being raised.
In Nottingham, only 20 per cent of the population aged 12 and over have had their third booster jab, with 43.1 per cent having had their booster in the county.
Mr Johnson delivered a televised message to households across the country on Sunday, December 12, following a rise in Omicron variant coronavirus cases.
He said everyone over the age of 18 will be offered a Covid booster jab by the end of December, provided three months have passed since their last jab, to help protect people from a fresh wave of infections.
The number of cases of the new variant is doubling every two to three days. – far quicker than the existing dominant Delta variant.
On Friday 10 December, Public Health directors said there were 11 cases in the area – nine in the city and two in the county, but they predict the true figure in the community will be higher.
Mr Johnson has said extra vaccine and mobile sites would be set up and opening hours extended. More volunteers would be trained to deliver the vaccines.
Cllr John Clarke (Lab), leader of Gedling Borough Council, said he is calling on NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group to use the Richard Herrod Centre again.
The Carlton site stopped delivering vaccines in October.
“The logistics of doing what is planned is very difficult,” he said. “The Richard Herrod site was closed by the CCG and I am happy for it to be used in some form.
“I would call on them open up part of it again. The offer is there. With the booster jab now high on the agenda we need to open as many places as possible.
“I think they are going to struggle personally. It has been rushed through without having the extra centres set up in advance.
“We, in Gedling, will help as much as we can but without the cash and direction then we will struggle.”
Cllr Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, says he wrote to Public Health officials after residents were forced to travel outside of Broxtowe to receive their jab at the start of the year.
“I think it is manageable, but it is a logistical problem,” he said. “My concern is the most vulnerable people who can’t get to the centres. There needs to be a separate arrangement for them.
“Let’s have it thought through carefully and have extra vaccine centres in each town and each community.
“Broxtowe was the only area without a vaccine centre from the onset – and people had to travel miles. Put us in your thoughts.”
Cllr Jason Zadrozny (Ashfield Independents), leader of Ashfield District Council, added: “After Boris Johnson’s rushed announcement last night, we are awaiting further detail about the implications for the council. At the moment we have received no guidance.”
Amanda Sullivan, Accountable Officer at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, said: “The NHS is working exceptionally hard to accelerate the booster programme to offer protection to as many people as quickly as possible.
“Locally, we are establishing a number of ways we can quickly step up the volumes of jabs given to the public.
“These will include increasing capacity at our sites, offering extended opening hours, standing up more vaccination sites, working to increase our vaccinator workforce, accepting the national support on offer which includes the military and supporting our GPs and community pharmacies to be able to offer the lifesaving jabs to as many people as possible.
“I want to be clear that our NHS workforce will be working very hard to vaccinate as many people as possible and I am grateful for the support across the local system in helping us to achieve this.
“The local NHS is prioritising bookings for boosters and I would urge eligible people to book a slot to guarantee their jab.
“If you are over 30 you can book on the NHS website or by calling 119. We appreciate the booking systems are very busy at the moment, but we would ask that you keep checking for more availability as it comes online.”
Mr Johnson said in his briefing to the nation on December 12: “I am afraid we are now facing an emergency in our battle with the new variant, Omicron, and we must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection to keep our friends and loved ones safe.
“I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need.
“But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose – a booster dose –we can all bring our level of protection back up.
“At this point our scientists cannot say that Omicron is less severe, and even if that proved to be true, we already know it is so much more transmissible, that a wave of Omicron through a population that was not boosted would risk a level of hospitalisation that could overwhelm our NHS and lead sadly to very many deaths.”
Third booster jab take up aged 12 and over so far across the city and county:
Nottingham – 65,559 people – which equates to 20.3 per cent
Nottinghamshire – 326,338 – which equates to 43.1 per cent
Rushcliffe – 48,658 – which equates to 45 per cent
Gedling – 43,811 – which equates to 41.2 per cent
Broxtowe – 44,736 – which equates to 42.3 per cent
Bassetlaw – 51,962 – which equates to 47.7 per cent
Newark and Sherwood – 48,283 – which equates to 42.5 per cent
Mansfield – 41,592 – which equates to 41.1 per cent