The first 975 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine will arrive on the Island at the beginning of next week . And, in a further boost, the Island’s positivity rate is now 16.2 per 100,000 residents – the lowest in England – compared to Portsmouth (141) and Southampton (66).
Simon Bryant, the Island’s Director of Public Health, speaking after a Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting yesterday, confirmed: “The vaccine will be rolled out from the University Hospital Portsmouth NHS Trust, the nearest hospital hub to the Island.
“The go-ahead to split the packs of 975 vaccines still needs to be given by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). But once they are split up, they can be moved to vaccine centres around the Island.”
There are expected to be three main centres at the Riverside Centre, Newport, Westridge Centre, Ryde and the West Wight Sports and Community Centre – although this has not been officially confirmed. A formal announcment is expected today or tomorrow.
The first doses will be stored in the Carisbrooke surgery and then distributed to the West and Central areas of the Island. A second batch will be received later next week, with a third arriving a week later, starting Monday, December 21.
Clinical chair of the NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, Dr Michelle Legg, a GP at the Tower House Surgery in Ryde, speaking earlier in the week, said it was still too early to confirm who would receive the vaccination first. She said: “It was going to be the care home group of vulnerable people. Now, however, because of the nature of the vaccine and how it needs to be stored and only transferred a few times, this has changed.
“The cohort which NHS England has designated to be vaccinated first in the community is the over-80s who are not the housebound. They will be invited to vaccination a couple of weeks before Christmas. After that, there are several other categories who will be vaccinated next.”
As the Island’s fight against Covid finally appears to be gaining strength, there was more good news from Island Council Leader, Dave Stewart, who confirmed positivity rates continued to fall.
Even though the number of cases is rising, the Island’s seven-day infection case rate per 100,000 is falling, having decreased to 31 per 100,000 on November 28 to its latest position at 16.2.
He said: “We are in an extremely encouraging position on the Island because everyone has followed the rules regarding safety and we all want to stay in Tier One.
“Our Covid rate is 16.2, which is really low and this would never have been achieved unless people were doing the right thing. We continue to watch carefully what is happening with the perception of visitors coming to the Island – we certainly don’t want people here on booze cruises. But we continue to move in the right direction.
“There is another review next week when we should remain in Tier One and, although there may be a spike over Christmas, as long as people keep up the precautions and we stay in Tier One come January, that should see us through.”
It has also been confirmed that local contact tracers are now in action on the Island after an initial delay when it was thought there was less need for them. The contact tracers have been following up cases for a week.