Weekly Poll – COVID-19 Vaccination Programme (Week Beginning 9 August 2021)
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 9 August 2021, we asked a question about the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.
Question 1. Are you satisfied with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Scotland?
- YES – 73% (68 respondents)
- NO – 27% (25 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
Respondents reflected on the priority groups that were first offered the COVID-19 vaccine, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The majority of respondents were satisfied by the priority groups, however, a portion stated that certain groups should have been offered the vaccine sooner. This includes some disabled people, who believed they should have been included in the priority list.
“My immune system exists but it doesn’t seem as good at generating immunity and it can take longer than usual to recover from infections too. I believe people like me should have been offered the jab between February and April, instead of in July when I eventually received it.”
“Whilst neurological conditions were eligible under priority list 6, I had to wait to my young age cohort due to GP records being inaccurate. I worry I will be missed again and not recognised as vulnerable should things turn bad again.”
“Being clinically vulnerable I should have received a letter for my jab, but I had to make numerous calls to get it first.”’
“Maybe disabled people should have had more priority, particularly if they are face mask exempt. I have been offered only after asking and being persistent with the NHS.”
“I feel that blind people should have been in the priority groups because we have to be in close contact with people often.”
“Not all people in high-risk group and housebound, were vaccinated by the deadline date in February. It was very difficult to find out what was happening and when vaccine would be given. Eventually a district nurse did arrive in March. It would appear that community personnel were limited for people who required to have a vaccine in their home. I was certainly aware that others, not considered high risk and in the lower groups, were vaccinated prior to myself.”
Frontline workers were another group identified by respondents that should have been considered sooner for receiving the vaccine. This includes individuals in public facing roles such as transport workers, retail staff and unpaid carers.
“All Blue Light and health staff should have been given a higher priority to get the jab.”
“I do think that workers in shops, police, unpaid carers, etc should have had priority.”
“The initial priority groups should have been wider – so many frontline staff not considered, for example, police and school staff.”
It was recently announced in Scotland that those aged 12-15 with certain underlying health conditions will be invited for a vaccine. That includes young people with severe neuro-disabilities, Down’s syndrome, immunosuppression and multiple or severe learning disabilities. One respondent highlighted some of the challenges that this may present.
“I think it’s really important that the COVID-19 vaccine invite to anyone aged 12 or over with severe neuro-disabilities etc. will be accessible to those groups. I think that could be quite challenging to achieve. Also, that there will be a way for these groups to communicate with the NHS e.g., if they have questions about the vaccine. For example, some people will be non-verbal, others find it difficult to speak and might need to speak through technology.”
It is important for the public to receive a vaccine invitation in a format that meets their communication strengths and preferences. Some respondents were satisfied with the communications they received when being invited for the vaccine.
“I received my invitation promptly and am now informed that I will get a booster vaccine around the same time as my flu one. I am very happy with the timing and organisation of my programme of vaccines.”
“The communication was good as was the online appointment and vaccination details.”
“Communications have been better than previous flu vaccines.”
“Phone calls and letters were easy to understand with support from a parent.”
In contrast, some respondents received their vaccine invitation in a format that was not accessible. At Disability Equality Scotland, we host the Inclusive Communication Hub (www.inclusivecommunication.scot), a website dedicated to inclusive communication information and resources, including guidance on how to produce information in accessible formats. We also deliver a service to produce information in Easy Read, a format that is accessible for people with a learning disability (www.easyread.scot).
“I am visually impaired. The letter for vaccines wasn’t accessible because they only could give me this in print.”
“I was offered the vaccine over the phone and message left but the surgery know I am unable to use a telephone!”
“I have found communications to be poor overall – I require information in Easy Read format and support in understanding information. None was provided at any time – even at the vaccination centre they had no accessible information available nor anyone who could help provide support in me understanding what was happening. If it wasn’t for neighbours helping me understand things, I doubt I would have been able to get the vaccine.”
“Postal communication arrived but trying to contact the vaccine organisers with questions or to change appointments was almost impossible.”
Travelling to Vaccine Centre
Respondents reflected on their experiences of travelling to a vaccine centre. For some people, the vaccine centre was in a location that was challenging to get to, particularly for those who are unable to drive and must rely on public transport. For some respondents, this resulted in having to travel by taxi, which can be an expensive option compared with other modes of transport.
“I was very concerned about the expense of getting a taxi to the vaccination venue. I have had to stop paying my electricity bill because I spent my electricity savings money on getting a taxi to the vaccination centre. It was not possible to get there by bus due to local council saying it has had to cut down on subsidised buses due to funding cuts, so I had to go to venue by taxi.”
“It was easy to get to the local sports centre for the first dose (bus, car, walk) but the second dose was more difficult (Ravenscraig sports centre) as it is in the middle of nowhere with no bus service to or from so if you had no transport or a friend to take you then you were stuffed unless you were willing and able to pay for a taxi.”
“I found it very difficult to get to the vaccine centre as it was over 5 miles from my home, whereas there were centres within a mile of my home.”
“Throughout this vaccination programme our nearest vaccination centre has been over 10miles away (and I wouldn’t class my home as rural) and not always on a direct bus route putting a lot of people off attending as they can’t afford taxis.”
“The vaccination centre was accessible but getting there was not due to no parking anywhere in the car park or any adjacent potential free space. Pavement parking and blocking of dropped kerbs made access by wheelchair impossible and unsafe!”
“I was sent to a drive-in vaccine centre half hour drive away. My muscles were causing me issues and I couldn’t drive. Luckily, my husband who normally works away from home managed to take me. No consideration was made for my disabilities or polypharmacy. I take 16 tablets a day, a drive in, in my opinion, was not suitable.”
“I was sent miles away from home for the first jab, only to discover from a Practice Nurse, I was eligible for jabs from my GP Surgery, due to disability. The venue itself was very accessible, just the other side of the country.”
Accessibility of Vaccination Centre
The majority of respondents were satisfied with the accessibility of vaccination centres. In addition, a large portion of respondents praised the helpfulness of healthcare professionals and vaccination centre volunteers.
“Caird Hall Dundee had a quiet space to sit for people with additional needs. I was recognised and asked if I wanted to use the quiet space. There were helpful people there to keep you right and explained everything well. Staff giving vaccines were very accommodating and friendly, which helped take me to a happy place as I have a fear of needles.”
“I have had both vaccinations and the site of vaccination was reasonable in the accessibility matter. I also found the staff very helpful and assisting. I was taken in when I arrived and didn’t have to stand outside for any time at all. Once inside I was called quickly so didn’t have to wait very long either. Everything was explained to me and all I had as far as side effects was a sore arm for a day.”
“Everything was done in a compassionate way.”
“I have volunteered at the local vaccination centre, and I could see no issues or problems accessing them at all and that includes people with learning difficulties, mobility problems or other language users, everything was coordinated well, and appointments were well spaced, in fact maybe a little too far apart.”
“I was given my first jab in early February and the second in April- it was well organised, and I am grateful to have been looked after so well.”
A portion of respondents had encountered difficulties with the accessibility of their allocated vaccination centre.
“The vaccination centre was overall pretty good. I had mine in the SSE Hydro, rechristened NHS Louisa Jordan. Wheelchair access inside the venue was fine – albeit the taxi ranks had no dropped kerbs and nobody parked close enough to the kerb for me to transfer out of my wheelchair, so I ended up having to ask the driver to move to an area with dropped kerbs away from the taxi rank. This paving accessibility could have been improved but the building itself was just fine.”
“Very nice staff, excellent ramp at the outside door, but in the jab area/hall the ramp felt like a seesaw, too high for my electric wheelchair, felt like I’d fall out forward, but I didn’t.”
“The vaccination centre was very busy and rushed which was difficult for me and I could imagine for people with more sever anxiety disorders it would be impossible.”
In some cases, respondents received the vaccine at their local GP surgery or from their own home.
“As a disabled person with an autoimmune condition I was invited by letter and phone call to attend for both my vaccines at my local surgery, which is fully wheelchair accessible. Everything was very organised.”
“Due to my mobility issues and mental health issues and also caring for my elderly mum I was vaccinated at home. Thank you so much to all the amazing people who made it happen.”
People who were in the COVID-19 shielding category who are at the highest risk from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, reflected on their experiences of the vaccination programme.
“Being in the shielding group I was asked to attend the doctor’s surgery and all communication regarding the vaccine was done over the telephone and the doctors were fully accessible, so I found everything very easy including the information regarding the vaccine.”
“I am happy with the vaccine rollout. I was one of the many who were shielding, and I missed my arranged appointment at the dialysis unit due to a health issue. However, I was visited at home two weeks later for my first jab and 6 weeks later for my second. I can’t fault the organisation.”
“I am on the shielding list and had both my vaccines when offered. However, the numbers going up and the reduced social distancing measures etc makes me very nervous with new variants. I have only been seeing a few people face to face. I have caught a really bad chest infection requiring extended antibiotics and steroids. I can’t imagine how it would be to catch COVID-19. I feel the reduction of measures is forcing me to shield again.”
The majority of respondents were satisfied with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Scotland. When reflecting on priority groups, some respondents believed that certain disabilities and health conditions should have been included on the priority list. Most respondents were satisfied with the communications that they received for the vaccine invitation. However, some people had not received the information in an accessible format that met their communication preference. Concerns were raised about the location of some vaccination centres and the challenges this posed when travelling by public transport. Most respondents found the vaccination centres to be accessible and staff to be helpful.