Elderly men and women were left waiting for “hours” in the “freezing” cold before receiving their vaccinations against Covid-19 in Lewisham yesterday (Friday, January 8) as the government’s plan to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible hit “teething problems” in its roll out.
Queues stretching for blocks were reported outside one Lewisham health centre where those waiting with elderly relatives reported “horrific” experiences in their struggle to help loved ones get the vaccine even as coronavirus cases continue to soar in London.
One resident who took both her elderly parents to get vaccinated in Lewisham told News Shopper they had waited over three hours in the street before being admitted to receive their shots, highlighting the difficulties the UK now faces in rolling out an ambitious vaccination programme as directed by the government.
“It was barbaric,” the woman, who did not wish to be named, said of her family’s experience.
“They were standing there for over three hours in freezing conditions and just accepted the situation. It was really heartbreaking to see.
“My Dad has got a walking frame and I got him a plastic chair from the car, but he was shivering and luckily I was able to get a blanket,” she added.
Footage of long queues for vaccinations in South East London circulated social media sites on Friday with many users posted comments voicing their frustration at the long delays for vaccinations that in some cases were reportedly administered hours after the scheduled appointment.
NEWS: a major incident has been declared in London due to the rapid spread of #COVID19 and increase in hospitalisations which has left the NHS at risk of being overwhelmed.@ProfKevinFenton asks Londoners to double down their efforts to #StayHome, protect the NHS and save lives. pic.twitter.com/EBg66HoFlS
— PHE London region (@PHE_London) January 8, 2021
One resident told News Shopper their their parents were due to receive jabs of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at 10.30am and 10.40am, but didn’t step foot inside the health centre until after 2pm.
She praised those working to help assist people in the queue but said the situation remained upsetting nonetheless.
“The volunteers there were doing a fantastic job, trying to get chairs for the hundreds and hundreds of people there, who were all over 80,” they said.
“But nobody explained to us why there was a delay or why this was allowed to happen.
“It was thoroughly upsetting to see,” the Lewisham woman added.
South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (SELCCG) say on their website that the vaccination programme in the region is being rolled out at three Hospital Hubs and since December 14 has been delivered “from a number of primary care hubs”.
“The number of sites providing vaccinations will increase as more vaccine becomes available,” an online statement reads.
SELCCG were contacted for comment.