Pensioners voice their anxiety over coronavirus vaccine uncertainty

Elderly east London residents have been asked not to contact their GPs as they wait anxiously to receive the COVID vaccine.

Vaccines are currently being offered to those aged 80 and above and other priority groups at eight local sites across Waltham Forest, Redbridge and Havering.

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.

Chingford pensioner Eileen Green, 93, said that, though she was happy to wait, the uncertainty was hard to bear.

She said: “If they were to tell me it was in two weeks’ time, at least it would give me something to hang on to.

“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 January 5, three community sites are listed as offering the vaccine: Forest Road Medical Centre, Oliver Road Polyclinic and St Edmund’s Church, Chingford.

The vaccine is also being offered at Whipps Cross and other Barts Health NHS Trust hospitals across east London.

Speaking on December 17, 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.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter