‘Covid jabs on track’

JERSEY’S Covid-19 vaccination programme saw almost 8,000 doses administered by last Sunday and is continuing at ‘500 to 700’ jabs per day, the government has confirmed.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30074382)
Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30074382)

The latest information was shared on Thursday[21 January], with those leading the programme saying it remained on track to have all over-50s and any vulnerable Islanders vaccinated by the end of March.

However, Islanders who have had the vaccine were warned by programme lead Becky Sherrington that they should continue to follow public-health advice and not return to normal social behaviour until a greater percentage of the population had been vaccinated.

But it was confirmed that Jersey would not be following England and the Isle of Man in providing daily updates because of workloads and the need to have the numbers verified to give a ‘true picture’.

Jersey, which had administered 7,854 doses by the end of Sunday, continues to rank highly in the global list of countries to have administered the most doses for every 100 people.

Israel (35 doses per 100), the UAE (22), Gibraltar (21) and Bahrain (8.5) are the highest-ranked jurisdictions on the Our World in Data site, followed by the UK figure of 7.5 issued on 19 January, just ahead of Jersey’s 7.29 doses from two days earlier.

The latest data from the European Union was 1.54 cases per 100 on Wednesday [20 January].

Figures show that 44% of over-80s in Jersey had received their first dose of the vaccine by 17 January, and that 10% had received both doses.

Operational lead Ross Barnes said the programme had continued this week.

‘We are vaccinating 500 to 700 people a day at present and so far we have not had the supply chain to do any more,’ he said. ‘Our capacity is 1,000 a day, although we go at a slightly slower pace with the over-80s to ensure a good customer experience.’

The next tiers of the programme will start imminently, with over-75s able to book from Monday for appointments from 30 January, while high-risk Islanders and those aged over 70 will be able to make bookings from the start of next month for slots from 6 February onwards.

While the rollout remains dependent on the supply chain from the UK, the capacity exists to vaccinate 105,000 Islanders – all those over two years old – by September.

Ms Sherrington defended the policy of issuing only weekly updates each Thursday, incorporating data to the previous Sunday.

‘Doing daily statistics would create a huge amount of work and detract from the programme without any added benefit,’ she said. ‘The data needs to be checked in order to give assurance that it is a true picture.’

Provisional data, broken down by region, is published daily by the National Immunisation Management Service in England, with ‘further validation’ carried out prior to the issue of more detailed weekly bulletins.

Jersey’s government has not shared any information in recent weeks about stocks of the vaccine, but there are plans to offer further information as the rollout continues.

‘We do recognise everyone’s frustration, but it is very difficult when there are daily changes to supply data,’ said medical director for primary care Dr Adrian Noon. ‘We hope we will soon be able to predict with more confidence and to be a lot more transparent with data.’

An exact split of how many doses of the AstraZeneca (Oxford) and Pfizer BioNTech vaccines had been issued so far was not available, but Mr Barnes said the majority had been Pfizer. This would change, he added, as deliveries of the AstraZeneca product, which can be stored in a normal fridge, enable teams to visit those over-80s who have been unable to come to Fort Regent, starting from next Monday [25 January].

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said Islanders needed to accept that there could be changing advice regarding the interval between doses of the vaccine.

Responding to reports from Israel, where doubts were expressed by a leading medic about the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, Dr Muscat said advice was changing constantly.

‘We all have to accept that we are living in unchartered territory and there is constant analysis [of effectiveness],’ he said. ‘If additional learning is acquired, then we will apply it.’

Dr Muscat said that his own understanding regarding vaccines was changing daily.

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