Plans are being worked on today to scale up the vaccination programme in the Bristol region after the target for giving every adult a booster jab was brought forward by a month.
Speaking in a pre-recorded address on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain ‘must urgently reinforce our wall of vaccine protection’ as he set the new deadline of jabbing everyone over 18 by the New Year.
The increase in national efforts to get the booster vaccine delivered for every adult will see 42 military planning teams deployed across every health region.
And extra vaccine sites will be opened while clinic opening hours will be extended to allow people to be jabbed around the clock and at weekends.
Thousands more vaccinators will be trained.
But despite the announcement, the situation in the Bristol region today remains very much the same, while plans are worked up to scale up the programme.
Attempts to book an appointment this month are also proving difficult due to a lack of available slots in the area.
A check on the NHS website for walk-in centres shows no new sites have been added to the list, while jabs at the Cabot Circus clinic are available for only those who booked an appointment.
Those eligible for the walk-in service are people aged 40 and over.
People with an underlying health condition or healthcare staff are also eligible.
There must also be a gap of at least three months from a second dose for anyone to have the booster jab.
Asked if the situation had changed following last night’s announcement, a spokesperson for NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group said it had not.
They added: “We are working on our local plans to scale up our vaccination programme.
“There is no immediate change and the website is currently up to date.”
Yesterday’s announcement by the Prime Minister, combined with no change on who is eligible for the booster jab locally and a lack of available appointments this month, has caused some confusion.
Nicola Grahamslaw wrote on Twitter: “In/near Bristol and can’t find a booster appt til January? Several walk-in clinics are offering them this week but not showing up via the main NHS website walk-in search.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “I struggle to see how the hell everyone can get a booster by NYE when, for example, my nearest walk in is in Bristol (14 miles) & only open tomorrow. Then the other is in Swindon! It’s not the NHS’ fault but unless 000’s of centres are opened now it just can’t happen? Surely?”
And another wrote: “You do realise booster vaccine appointments aren’t available til January across Bristol? V few walk in options, January is too late to be strategy.”
Nationally, nursing leaders have raised concerns over the new target set by Mr Johnson, including Pat Cullen, general secretary and chief executive at the Royal College of Nursing, who said he feared the ‘scale and pace of this expansion’.