Only 2 walk-in booster sites in Somerset?

Last week, during Prime Minister’s Questions, David Warburton asked about vaccination centres in rural areas. The MP for Somerton and From pointed out the lack of centres and the lack of public transport to get to them.

Since then the Prime Minister has announced a ramping up of the booster programme so that all adults should have a booster jab by the end of this month.

Yesterday we received a press release telling us about how Somerset had ramped up the vaccination response.

Dr Alex Murray, Joint Senior Responsible Officer for the programme, told us: “….following the scientific evidence about how quickly the new Omicron variant spreads, and the positive effects of a third “booster” vaccination, the programme is working very quickly to increase the number of vaccinations that it delivers every day. We are planning to do this by increasing the number of “vaccination pods” in vaccination sites in Somerset where we can, increasing the opening hours of as many sites as possible, and looking very quickly at the whether we can open additional sites in Somerset.”

Today using the NHS website and tapping in a postcode for Langport, the only site in Somerset offering a walk in booster jab for over 16’s was Winchester Farm near Cheddar. Whilst this does not seem right, that is the status as per the NHS website. Only one other walk in site in Somerset was listed, Haynes Motor Museum, but that is for 12-15 year olds only. The only other sites listed were in Bristol and Exeter.

The Leveller is aware that up until last Sunday at least, other walk in sites at Yeovil and Bridgwater Rugby Club in North Petherton were also offering boosters. Today out delivering we noticed the Shape Mendip hub in Shepton Mallet was advertising booster jabs.

We’d love to hear from readers who know of other walk in centres that are open. But it does not look as if the NHS site is reliable. And that is a crucial part of the response. If people are worried and want a booster, they will probably try and get a walk in. They are told to use the NHS website to find their nearest vaccination centre. If they do they will be disappointed.

If the site is reliable, having just one site in Somerset for boosters for the over 16s is a lamentable performance. And if that is the case, the government is not delivering on its promise for the people of Somerset.

10 comments

  • Talking with “vaccinees” at Haynes I suspect that the NHS’ Covid appointments system is set towards filling slots available in the immediate future at any distance up to (say) 40 miles rather than slots in a slightly longer window but closer to home. This would explain walk-ins (or those looking for a walk-in) not wanting to take up an imminent slot in maybe Gloucester rather than a local appointment in a week’s time.

  • Shape is run by our local GPs around Wells/Shepton. Think the NHS centralised sites are in addition to what is on offer via registered GP sites – plus there will be pharmacy centres. And I think Boris did say booster system would be from Weds for 30somethings with 18s after. Media frenzy going on here…

    • We would respectfully disagree. We are delighted that you have detailed knowledge of the sites available in your area and are well informed. However the issue we are highlighting, is that for those not so well informed, resorting to the NHS website, as instructed, to find a walk-in is unhelpful. Only yesterday on Radio 4s Today programme people were being urged to use the NHS site to find a place to get vaccinated. Ideally to book an appointment. But many people have been worried by the recent spate of Government warnings and don’t want to wait for an appointment. They are trying to find walk ins. The fact they exist, is great for those with detailed local knowledge. But if you rely on the website, you are in all probability a bit stuffed….

  • My Langport experience was of being directed to Wedmore, where the small pharmacy had been totally over run and was having to turn “Walk Ins” away. The following day I was directed to Cheddar, which while further away was handling things well. I actually feel for Somerset CCG and would be interested to know how much warning they were given of the government’s sudden doubling of the pace of vaccination. These things require planning, resource and people – you can’t just shout “faster” at them and hope for the best. Having said that the Cheddar massive were pretty close to faultless.

    • The CCG gets no advance notice – heard about this at 8pm Sunday the same as everyone else. More clinics and appointments will be coming available every da

  • Last week there were a lot of Somerset sites offering walk-ins but some were only open on specific days.

    I went to the Wedmore Pharmacy and their wonderful team were anticipating being able to double their capacity in Wedmore, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, by taking over the village hall there.

    Other Somerset venues open last week were Winchester Farm in Cheddar (2 days a week), Bridgwater Rugby Club (Sundays) and The Gateway in Yeovil (Saturdays).

    The only pre booking option then available to my better half was the Motor Museum at Sparkford. The other sites were booked up.

    That said Wedmore had to turn away folk who had booked too early (not leaving enough days since the second jab) so could offer more walk-ins than expected.

  • Reading Sean’s comment about Wedmore I think there is an element of luck to finding the walk-in appointment. When we arrived there were no walk-ins left but 30 minutes later there was an abundance so a healthy queue formed. Reason being incorrect time gap between jabs and no shows on booked appointments.
    Think it is going pretty well given the sudden need to administer so many boosters before the end of 2021.

    • In my case it was slightly worse than bad luck in that I had checked immediately prior to driving there and by the time I got there they had cancelled the “Walk In” option for the rest of the day because they had “insufficient vaccines” – which is obviously frustrating if you had just driven for 40 minutes. I am delighted to hear that they have expanding their resource by using the Village Hall. I always expect a lot of Wedmore because I grew up there!

      • Sean, thought you were in Theale back then. Certainly remember dropping something off for your sister in that village.
        It is possible we arrived at the Wedmore Pharmacy around same time as initially there were walk-ins when we got there (after massive detour as both the Glastonbury-Meare and Wells-Wedmore roads closed).

  • I believe that the Meadows surgery in Ilminster may be offering boosters., but have not been able to confirm this.

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