Hundreds of individuals reported being turned away from Oxford’s Kassam Stadium COVID-19 vaccination hub on the weekend of February 13th because of a booking error where some social care professionals who were offered jab appointments were then told there is no vaccine for them.
While no definitive party has been identified as being responsible for the situation, confusion may have resulted from a list posted on the National Careers Service website that included early years providers, including nursery staff and childminders, as social care workers who were included in this phase of the roll out and were therefore offered appointments for jabs. Frontline community healthcare workers have already been given their vaccinations. Nonetheless, those who were turned away expressed their frustration.
An early years teacher from a north Oxford school called the system “chaotic shambles” for instance after being forced to leave on Saturday evening and a member of staff estimates that “at least 200 people” were turned away on Saturday alone, many of them having driven long distances from around the county.
The teacher told the Oxford Mail: “I am so angry. They have given people false hope and wasted our time. They had our contact details but made no attempt to let us know, which is a basic courtesy. They would rather sit back, let hundreds of people turn up and turn them away in the car park. Early year providers are working throughout the pandemic and are struggling at high risk without the financial support to buy appropriate PPE and sanitising products. Pre-schools have been open since September and we are all worried and anxious. Mistakes like this should not happen. The lack of respect for the early years sector is unforgivable. And we haven’t been given any indication of when we can actually get our jabs.”
A nursery worker Karen Ratcliff, 62 from Wantage was also turned away, and told the Oxford Mail: “Girls have had their holidays cancelled, they book a week off at home and then have to come in. We look after all these kids. It is really upsetting, I usually work part-time but I have been working full-time. I am 62, I do not want to be working full-time anymore. It is exhausting.”
Oxfordshire County Council asserted that these early staff should not have access to jabs and a spokesperson for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust commented: “We continue to vaccinate people in priority cohorts set by the JCVI, and local authorities are identifying eligible social care staff. People who booked in error are rightly asked to wait their turn so that we can prioritise those eligible for vaccination at this time, including older residents and those who are clinically vulnerable. We are carrying out ID checks at the Vaccination Centre to ensure only those who are currently eligible are vaccinated.”
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