First vaccinations being carried out at Chiswick Health Centre

Image above: Queue for vaccinations mid-morning on Friday 8 January

The Covid vaccination programme is being delivered primarily at GP surgeries, with 1,000 GP practices at the forefront of providing jabs to the public. The vaccinations are being offered first to elderly people and those who are clinically vulnerable. The NHS will contact you if you are eligible for vaccination at this stage.

Chiswick Health Centre is one of those select locations to offer vaccinations. The centre has had queues of elderly people waiting outside for vaccinations, referred by GPs in the area. The first cohort, over 80, received texts before Christmas and they’re now moving on to the over 75s. 

Those The Chiswick Calendar has spoken to have received the Pfizer vaccine, which has been found to be 52% effective after the first dose and 95% after the second dose. One man who received his first jab on Thursday (7 January) has been offered an appointment for the second dose in three weeks’ time.

Long queues outside

An account from a carer who was not impressed with the organisation

Those we’ve spoken to have been delighted that the have the opportunity of having the vaccination in Chiswick. There are concerns being expressed about the management of the queue however.

The Chiswick Calendar has received one email from one woman who wrote this:

‘I was so looking forward to vaccination day. I took my 89-year-old mother in to be vaccinated today and was stunned. The queue, which was not distanced, stretched from Chiswick Health Practice almost to Sainsbury.

‘My mum stumbled trying to get out of the taxi and could not walk so I went inside to look for a wheel chair. To my horror it was worse inside. The place was heaving. There was no attempt at distancing.

‘There must have been around fifty people inside the small area, patients seated right next to each other, not even a meter apart, for what looked like many minutes while forms were filled in, questions asked & they waited again for their turn. It has been dinned into us to keep at two meters, especially inside. What was going on?

‘I tried to get help – but there was no one free. I saw no senior staff – the few staff were young and desperately stretched. I asked why there was no social distancing for our senior citizens, many of whom like my mother have been isolating for ten months. I was told it was the law that they had to vaccinate a large number.

‘No one knew where I could get a wheel chair. In the end, fearing for her safety, I had to take her home without being vaccinated in such a maelstrom. We are taking stock and will try again on another day

‘I love the NHS – but surely it is possible to do better – to vaccinate the same numbers but in a distanced way? In the autumn the flu jabs were managed brilliantly in the underground open section outside. Why have they changed a system that works. Surely it is possible to still reach the numbers but in a socially distanced way? Is there not a real risk if they carry on this way that vaccine centres become super spreaders in the very generation that we have been trying so hard to protect?’

Gratitude to doctors for securing the vaccinations

An account from a woman and her husband who were delighted to be vaccinated

One person we spoke to had a ten o’clock appointment, at which time there were about 20 people in the queue. Later in the day there were more people waiting, standing outside for about an hour. Those managing the queue were volunteers, supporting doctors inside the health centre giving the vaccinations.

The Chiswick Calendar has also received this account from a woman of 78, who had received her appointment just the day before and was vaccinated with her 83 year old husband.

“It was so exciting. The doctors in Chiswick must be very on the ball to have procured enough vaccine already to be rolling it out to the next group of eligibles.

“My husband, 83, had already received an appointment for later the same day. They send you an email asking you to reply with BOOK or DECLINE. The vaccinations are being done at a site a group of Chiswick doctors have created inside the Chiswick Health centre in Fishers Lane. We are all so grateful to them.

“You pitch up at the time stated, and then wait in line for your name to be called by cheerful women with clipboards, who ask a few basic questions regarding allergic reactions, non-coagulant drugs, previous vaccinations, and general health, then give you a printed sheet. You are encouraged to come in on your own, but carers are admitted where necessary, and people with mobility issues can go to the top of the queue.

“My appointment was for 10.00am, and I only had to wait around ten minutes before going in. Yes, later, the queue gets pretty long at time, off the long winding ramp and along the road, but honestly no-one minded that, as we were all thrilled to be on the list. There is no way they could arrange for people to wait inside – though we glad it was fine and dry, though pretty cold.

“There is no point really in coming early – your entry is governed by your place on the clipboards, not your place in the queue. If you are quite far back you need to listen alertly for your name.

“Inside there are perhaps 20 booths (maybe more) and I was in and out in 20 minutes. A large room has been divided efficiently into individual booths each with a chair. They were being cleaned between patients. Later in the day, the pressure had built up, and my husband’s vaccination took over an hour. The vaccine was administered by a doctor, who informed me it was Pfizer and that I would be protected after 10 days but should still wear a mask when outside. Anecdotally we heard they are doing 700 a day.

“My husband already has an appointment for the second dose, but the doctor was not sure at this stage whether that still stood, though she said they were trying to stick to the Pfizer protocol of a three week gap, if they could get supplies.

“There were volunteers easing the flow – I spoke with a sweet girl who usually works for one of the museums. She had heard by word of mouth that volunteers were needed and is a brilliant example of the many young people helping out in this crisis. We already have help with picking up our prescriptions. I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day, and could not wait to phone our daughters. So far, no ill effects!”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Rapid Covid tests available in Hounslow

See also: Guest blogProfessor Jeremy Levy says take the vaccination as soon as you are offered it

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.