GPs at forefront of booster jab effort in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin

15 December 2021

GPs across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin (STW) are stepping up to the plate as the NHS mobilises a plan to deliver 18 million covid booster jabs by New Year’s Eve.

The astonishing target has been set in a bid to ensure as many people as possible are protected against the worst effects of the Omicron variant, which is sweeping across the country.

Clinical evidence has shown that people who are unvaccinated and those who have had one or two doses are not well protected against Omicron, which is more transmissible than previous variants in common circulation. The addition of the booster dose does mean that the majority of people have immunity against becoming symptomatic if exposed to the virus.

In STW alone, capacity is being trebled this week, with a view to 160,000 doses being administered by the end of the year. Pharmacies, hospital hubs and vaccination sites are playing a big part in this effort – but the success of the campaign within the local health and care system will depend upon GPs and their clinical colleagues in primary care, who will deliver more than a third of the jabs themselves.

Dr John Pepper, a Shrewsbury-based GP who is also Chair of NHS Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There is a real ‘can-do’ attitude among primary care colleagues across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, who are all keen to rise to this challenge.

“We were at the forefront of the vaccination effort in 2020, but capacity had been scaled back as we also turned our attention to restoring overall primary care services above that of pre-pandemic levels.

“GPs have worked relentlessly over the past couple of years, but there is a clear need to scale up the booster programme at pace and my colleagues are ready to play their part.”

The added focus on the booster vaccination programme does mean that some routine activities carried out within GP practices will have to be paused in order to free up the capacity needed to run the added covid sessions. Dr Pepper admits that is something that all GPs are struggling with, and is calling on the public to show understanding.

“Our patients are always our No 1 priority,” he added. “Cancelling routine appointments is something that does not sit easily with us, but we have little choice if we are to meet this challenging vaccine target.

“I hope and expect that this disruption to service will only be for a few short weeks.

“And I must stress that GP practices remain open for business. If you are calling for an urgent issue, we can and will still support you. Don’t forget, other health services are available for you to use, including self-care, your local pharmacist or 111 online or via the phone.

“If you are waiting for a covid booster then you can also help your GP practice by waiting to be contacted rather than calling us. Please be assured that your practice will be in touch when it is your turn.”

Page last updated 15 December 2021