Calls for jab centre in the Havens ahead of booster roll-out next month
A volunteer driver charity has called on the NHS in Sussex to open a vaccination centre in the Havens area before the start of next month’s covid booster injection programme.
Paula Woolven, the chairman of trustees for Havens Community Cars, said people living in the coastal stretch between Seaford and Saltdean were still having to travel to get their jab in Eastbourne or Brighton.
Now with booster jabs due to be rolled out to some of the most vulnerable groups from September, she said a vaccination centre should be created in the Havens.
Since January, volunteers at Havens Community Cars have carried out more than 300 trips to take people unable to use public transport to a vaccination site.
Since April, the NHS has been paying for the mileage of the second tranche of vaccinations, Paula said.
“Unfortunately, many of the wonderful volunteers who stepped forward in January to help hundreds of people with vaccination and other social, living and medical appointments did so because they were on furlough, and over half of them have now returned to work, limiting our available volunteer numbers which is why it is so vital that NHS Sussex site a vaccination centre in the Havens before the booster programme starts in September,” she said.
Councillor James MacCleary, who represents Newhaven, said: “It is hard to fathom why Seaford, Newhaven and Peacehaven have been overlooked during the vaccination rollout.
“The NHS have done a fantastic job across the country, but we’ve been poorly served locally.
“I called publicly for a local vaccination centre for our coastal communities back in January and made it clear that the District Council was ready to make its buildings, like the Downs Leisure Centre in Seaford, available if needed.
“We know that vaccination rates in some local areas have not been as high as we would like and we should be making it as convenient as possible for people to get their jabs.”
A spokesman for the Sussex COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said: “The national COVID-19 programme set out at the beginning of the programme that vaccinations should be delivered at one central site for a community.
“This was due to the processes needed to deliver the vaccines safely.
“For the Havens and Seaford area, the local GP practices worked with the HERE Federation to offer their patients vaccinations at Brighton Racecourse and at three sites in Eastbourne, as well as several pop up clinics in Peacehaven and Newhaven.
“We recognise that for some people it was difficult to travel and we have been offering free transport for anyone who needed it to get to their vaccination appointment.
“We are delighted to have been working with Havens Community Cars as part of this scheme, and use their expertise to help local people receive this vital protection.
“We’re pleased to say that uptake in the Havens and Seaford has been really positive.
“For example, up to 90% of people have received their first dose in Seaford and more than 80% have received both doses.
“We are now continuing to look at points of access and are working with partners to have a specific vaccination service in the Havens for the autumn booster programme.”