t is a race against time to get the most vulnerable vaccinated on the Isle of Wight.
The Hampshire and Isle of Wight health teams are doing a great job at getting the vaccine to those who need it, but I want the Government to do more to help them. I have asked the Health Secretary to treat the Island as a priority.
The facts, as explained by Public Health officials, are as follows.
- Around 3,500 to 4,000 Islanders have already received their first vaccination. It is hoped that by the end of next week this will rise to nearer 10,000.
- In terms of vaccinations, the Island is running a little ahead of the UK but a little behind Hampshire.
- The first vaccination site opened at Carisbrooke in December. West Wight Sport and Community Centre was the second to open shortly after with the Bay Medical Practice in Shanklin going live just before Christmas – slightly earlier than planned – along with the Westridge Centre in Ryde.
- Each of these sites should so far have received one delivery of 975 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The box of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine contains 195 vials and each vial has 5 doses, but it has been found that doctors and nurses can get six good doses from each vial – so instead of 975 doses per box, we can get 1,150 doses per box.
- In the next few days, the Island is expecting each site to receive a further 975 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, 400 doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine along with a further box of 75 doses of Pfizer BioNTech for care homes.
- After that, the Island is expected to receive only the Oxford vaccine which will make it easier to supply the Island.
- A large vaccination site at the Riverside Centre should be ready to deliver 500 vaccinations a day by the middle of the month but may not get the vaccine until 25 January.
Because of the five-day shelf life of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine and batching in 975 doses, only sites that can deliver 975 doses in that time scale are included. That means that smaller pharmacies were not included in the initial roll-out. I am hoping that the more versatile Oxford vaccine will allow pharmacies on the Island to get involved in the next stages of the roll-out.
We do have an elderly population, so we are more vulnerable than some other areas, and mainland hospitals are already under pressure. As a result, I have asked for additional support for the vaccination roll-out on the Island.
I am also asking for greater medium-term clarity and more data to enable health planners to ensure the most efficient roll-out of the vaccine.