Report by Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
Elderly East London residents have been asked not to contact their GPs as they wait anxiously to receive their Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccines are currently being offered to those aged 80 and above and other priority groups at four sites in Waltham Forest.
It is understood that all residents aged 80 or above are considered the same priority and the oldest residents will not necessarily receive the vaccine first. This has led to concern from those seeing younger pensioners or those in other areas vaccinated when they have yet to hear anything.
However, the NHS is urging people not to contact their GP to ask about the vaccine and instead wait to receive their invitation.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Chingford pensioner Eileen Green, aged 93, said that, although she was happy to wait, the uncertainty was hard to bear. “If they were to tell me it was in two weeks’ time, at least it would give me something to hang on to,” Eileen said.
“I live on my own because I lost my husband ten years ago and you sit there thinking ‘what’s happening’ and getting all worked up. When you get to my age, you do tend to worry.”
However, some hours later, she was reassured after another resident in her block, aged 97, was contacted about the vaccine by their local GP.
As of Tuesday 5th January, three community sites in the borough are listed as offering the vaccine; Forest Road Medical Centre in Walthamstow, Oliver Road Medical Centre in Leyton, and St Edmund’s Church in Chingford. The vaccine is also being offered at Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone.
Speaking last month, the clinical lead for primary care in north-east London reassured residents GP were “working around the clock” to administer the vaccines. Dr Mark Rickets said: “We understand there is a great deal of interest in the Covid-19 vaccine and people are keen to understand when they will be able to access it but we would urge them not to contact their practice enquiring about vaccination.
“You will be contacted individually and will receive an invitation letter when the vaccine becomes available to you.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that the vaccines are not necessarily being offered according to age or postcode and that the order may vary from area to area.