Calls by elderly for more Lancashire pharmacies to give Covid jab
John and Jean Hutchinson are supporting the Post's campaign to allow local pharmacies to deliver the Covid jab after being amongst the first to be immunised in Leyland.
The couple both received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at a special clinic on the Lancashire Business Park which is aiming to inject up to 500 people a day.
"We couldn't fault it," said John, 83. "I have the utmost praise for the NHS frontline staff, they are utterly brilliant. The whole process took just a few minutes and was really well-run.
"But we normally have our flu jabs at the local pharmacy. I can't understand why they can't do this as well, especially now the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine has been rolled out."
With more than 11,000 pharmacies in the UK and only around 200 so far set up for Covid immunisation, the Post and its sister papers across the UK are campaigning for a wider roll-out of the vaccines.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper agreed saying: "Vulnerable residents within my constituency do not have their own vehicle and public transport is almost non existent. This vaccine is meant to protect the vulnerable, yet we seem to be excluding them."
John and Jean had a two-mile drive from their home near Worden Park, Leyland to Jubilee House to be immunised. But they fear some may have even longer journeys to reach a vaccination centre, even though they have a chemist shop much nearer.
"The opening of these big centres opening around the country this week is great news. But for some that could mean a journey of 30 to 50 miles, possibly even more," said John.
"I think we're lucky to only have a two mile journey to get ours. Allowing pharmacies to do the vaccinations would be much easier for many people."
Jean, 82, added: "The whole experience for us was excellent. We got a call on Thursday morning asking if we could go in that afternoon. It came as something of a surprise, but obviously we said 'yes.'
"It was at Jubilee House on the business park and the whole thing didn't take long. We were asked for our names which they ticked off on the list. We were taken into a room where we waited for about five minutes.
"We were taken into a cubicle, asked a few questions like if we had any allergies, and then we had the vaccination. It was painless, less even than the flu jab.
"I don't like needles, but it was nothing - I just didn't look. We then waited in a room for about 15 minutes to see if there was any reaction and that was it. All done.
"We've been told we will be called again in up to 12 weeks for a second jab. We are still being careful because it takes up to three weeks for it to take effect. We won't be going out or mixing, we'll still be taking precautions."
Meanwhile Fulwood pensioner Arthur Wilkinson is used to needles - he knits woollen hats for charity.
And the 87-year-old had no qualms going for his Covid vaccination when it was offered at the weekend.
Arthur had the jab at a health centre in Deepdale and described the experience as "smashing."
"It was pleasant really. There was no hassle," he said. You were not too close to people. We walked in and got the injection - it was all over in five minutes.
"Then I had to sit down and have a rest for 15 minutes to see if there were any repercussions."
He reported feeling "a little bit sore for half hour to an hour" where he was vaccinated, but otherwise he felt fine.
Arthur, who knits hats for local charity Integrate in his spare time, is now urging others to have a vaccination as soon as they are offered one.
He said: " Don't refuse to have it. Something has got to work for us."
South Ribble MP Katherine Fletcher said: "Pharmacies are a fabulous part of our communities and have been amazing during this pandemic already.
"We are currently using local pharmacies, as part of primary care networks, to deliver vaccine jabs. We will launch more this week and next, with more community pharmacies.
"With vaccine supplies limited, nationally we will use two hundred bigger pharmacies that can do the 1000 vaccinations a week as it's vital to ensure vaccines do not sit in fridges unused.
"Vaccinating the most vulnerable ASAP is our priority, and it warms the heart to see the big yellow 'vaccination centre' signs in Leyland and Penwortham.
"When vaccine supply is plentiful, we will increase the local focus and will bring many many more pharmacies into the delivery network. That way instead of people being within a 10 mile radius of a vaccination site, they will be within walking distance."
Rosie Cooper added: “It is essential that everyone is able to access the vaccine, not just people that are able to travel to the nearest mass jab centre, which could be miles and miles away.
"When will the Government finally take their needs into account and allow suitably qualified or trained people such as dentists and local pharmacies to administer the vaccine?”