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Cambridgeshire schools’ Covid vaccinations hit by delays

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The Covid-19 vaccination roll-out in Cambridgehire’s schools has hit a setback after health teams left some sites without administering jabs to all eligible pupils - and they have been unable to say when they will be back.

The delays comes with coronavirus cases continuing to soar among children in the region, with the latest data showing two per cent of all those aged 10 to 14 in the county tested positive for the virus in just one week to October 6.

At some schools health teams were not able to vaccinate all eligible pupils and will have to return.
At some schools health teams were not able to vaccinate all eligible pupils and will have to return.

The NHS trust running the vaccination service says it “understands the frustration” of parents left with no idea when their child will be vaccinated and revealed to the Cambridge Independent that it hopes to start offering jabs to children from community hubs in the near future.

At Comberton Village College, the immunisation service turned up on October 4 but only managed to jab around a third of all of the 12 to 15-year-old pupils eligible for the jab, with no indication when the rest would receive their vaccinations.

A Comberton parent said: “It was hugely disappointing when the vaccination team was only able to get to around 400 of the students who had signed up at Comberton. No one can tell us when our children will now be able to be vaccinated – I do not understand why parents can’t take children to vaccine drop-in centres if the in-school teams are so overstretched.

“With winter fast approaching, it is now becoming a race against time as we know it is a matter of when our children catch Covid, not if. I do not want my child to miss another day of school or life if it can be avoided – they have missed out on far too much as it is.”

Comberton principal Peter Law admitted they were in the dark about when the team would return.

He said: “On Monday October 4, we were visited by the school aged immunisation service, having been told they would immunise all of the pupils aged 12 to 15 for whom we had consent.

Peter Law, principal of Ccomberton Village College (52276630)
Peter Law, principal of Ccomberton Village College (52276630)

“The team of staff were highly professional and did a wonderful job, but sadly were far too few in number to vaccinate all of these children. By the end of the day around a third of all eligible children had received a vaccine.

“They have confirmed that they will return later to vaccinate those remaining children, but we do not have a date for when this will happen.”

At Bottisham Village College, the situation is even worse, as the date for first jabs has been put back a fortnight to November 16, with no explanation.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, which is running the school vaccination programme in Cambridgeshire, said: “Between now and November 2021 we have a rolling vaccination programme to deliver tens of thousands of vaccinations to eligible children in the 12 to 15-year-old cohort. This is taking place across a large region in East Anglia, delivered by our immunisation teams in the most secure and safe way.

“We understand the frustration that some parents and school staff will be experiencing if, when visiting their school, our immunisation team were unable to vaccinate the whole 12 to 15 age cohort of eligible pupils with their Covid-19 jab. We can only apologise and assure them that we are in the process of rescheduling a catch-up visit to those schools affected in the near future. This date will be shared with parents and carers via the headteachers as soon as possible.

“We are also looking into other options delivering this vaccination programme at alternative venues, such as mass vaccinations centres. Demand for the vaccination has been high and we ask for everyone’s patience and understanding in this matter.”

The spokesperson said the reason for the delays was that “demand has been high” and emphasised that “there is no shortage of supplies” of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine being administered.

The trust added that in order to cope with the number of vaccinations still needing to be administered the team would “soon be able to also offer booked appointments at many of the vaccination centres across the East Anglia region.”

The spokesperson made it clear this would not be for those whose schools have yet to start their vaccinations.

Some schools are awaiting a first visit from vaccination teams.
Some schools are awaiting a first visit from vaccination teams.

Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust said: “This is for those schools in the region where immunisation teams (on their first visit) were unable to complete the entire school’s cohort of eligible 12 to 15-year-olds. Parents and carers will either be given a new date when they will return to that school, or they will also be able to book an appointment, to accompany their child to a local vaccination centre. These booking slots and dates at vaccination centres are being currently worked out. These will be communicated via a letter from the school to any affected parents and carers and is due to be sent to them at the latest by early next week.”

When asked to explain why some schools have had their first vaccination session put back by weeks, the spokesperson said: “It’s a rolling programme. We can’t deliver this simultaneously across such a large region.”

The infection rate for children in Cambridgeshire aged 10 to 14 was 1,972 cases per 100,000 children in the seven days to October 6 - this equates to two per cent of children, or one in 50. This was nearly five times the infection rate for all ages of 408 cases per 100,000. Although for most children Covid-19 does not cause major illness, it can lead to complications in some, or long Covid, and there is evidence that infections among children are being transmitted within families, as there have been rises in the numbers of cases among those in the 40-49 age groups.

Across Cambridgeshire, only one in 10 (10.6 per cent) of all children aged 12-15 had received a Covid-19 vaccination, as of October 7.

The pace of the roll-out to this age group varies somewhat, however, with 14.3 per cent vaccinated in Huntingdonshire, compared to just 8.2 per cent in Cambridge, according to government statistics.

Read more

October 9: Covid-19 cases by age and area of Cambridgeshire, as another 2,500 infections recorded in a week

Cambridgeshire schools urged to reintroduce mask wearing amid rise in Covid-19 cases

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