Devon booster uptake going well

Devon has seen a “really good uptake” of the covid booster jab, according to a health boss.

Ollie Heptinstall, local democracy reporter

Nearly a quarter of a million doses (240,000)  have been given out so far to around 58 per cent of eligible people, Dr Paul Johnson, clinical chair of the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, told a monthly Team Devon meeting of local authority leaders.

He said many of the remaining 42 per cent will also have an appointment booked, “so the real figure of people coming forward for their vaccine at the booster stage is likely to increase.”

It marks a significant shift in tone from last month’s meeting, when Dr Johnson said he was “concerned” about the uptake of booster jabs, with just over 40 per cent of those eligible having received it at the time.

Since then, the criteria for booking appointments has changed. Whilst people still cannot receive a booster until at least six months after their second vaccine, they can now book their appointments after five months.

The eligibility age has been reduced too, with third jabs now being offered to people aged 41 and over. Those who are also more clinically vulnerable and the people they live with, as well as NHS workers, social care staff and care home residents, can also receive their booster.

Dr Johnson says the increase in the number of people turning up at large vaccination sites in Devon for third doses means extra resources having to be put in place, with the number “currently, in some circumstances, exceeding the capacity that we’ve got.”

But he added: “It’s a good problem to have, and it’s one that’s relatively easy to fix by just increasing the resourcing there.”

Locations offering boosters include the Riviera International Centre in Torquay, Home Park football stadium in Plymouth, Exeter’s Greendale on the Sidmouth Road, Newton Abbot Racecourse and Barnstaple Leisure Centre.

The meeting was also told that around 90 per cent of adults over 40 have now had the first two doses of the vaccine, above the national average. Dr Johnson called it “a really good result”.

However, he said there was “still work to be done” in younger age groups, with uptake in ages between 18 to those in their thirties “around about the 75 to 85 per cent of uptake, which is lower than we would like.”

From the Covid dashboard – the latest picture of confirmed infections: