Oxford GP challenges government policy on Covid boosters

A doctor has questioned the policy of limiting Covid boosters at a time when cases have been on the rise.

Dr Helen Salisbury said doses of the vaccine at her practice in Jericho, Oxford, had gone out of date last week.

She said it would have been better to give to people outside the groups most at risk, rather than going to waste.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said patients at higher risk “are most likely to benefit from booster vaccination at this time”.

The government’s Covid-19 autumn programme offers vaccines to people aged 65 and over, residents in care homes for elderly, anyone aged six months and over in a clinical risk group, and health and social care staff.

A recent government report showed that approximately one in every 24 people could test positive for Covid-19 at the current time.

But only patients who meet a certain criteria could get a vaccine on the NHS.

Dr Salisbury said she has had to isolate at home herself after testing positive.

She told the BBC she had seen data indicating that “there really is a big wave going on”.

“The fewer people are vaccinated, the more the disease is going to circulate,” she said.

“It’s a bit ridiculous that we had the vaccine and decided not to use it.”

Raza Hassani, a pharmacists based in Yarnton, Oxfordshire, said he had had customers asking for the vaccine at his shop because the nearest vaccination centre was not on a direct bus route.

“There’s quite a lot of vaccines around but patients getting to that vaccine or having it administered – that can be an issue,” he explained.

Mr Hassani added that distributing it like the annual flu vaccine would allow chemists to give doses to those on the list of people entitled to a free jab.

They include everyone over 65, the medically vulnerable, their households, carers and health workers.

But it would also mean those not on the list could pay to get vaccinated, as they can for flu.

“The more widely available it is, the greater uptake there will be and therefore, the greater protection,” he said.

“The bigger problem is that… after Christmas we’ll see quite a big spike again.”

NHS England said it had established a record number of vaccination sites this winter but UKHSA defended limiting the numbers entitled to a jab.

A spokesperson said that the vaccination programme, based on scientific advice, was aimed at those at higher risk,


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