I started chemo in Feb and sadly couldn’t access a vaccine beforehand. I was strongly advised by my oncology team to fit my first dose in a short window between treatments which proved exceptionally difficult due to to rigid booking systems and unpredictable vaccine supply. I eventually (more by accident than design) managed to get the Pfizer jab 7 weeks ago.
News then broke that the efficacy of the jab was poor for immuno-surpressed patients and a rapid booster was vital for good protection. Ideally 3 weeks after the first jab. I immediately chased everyone I could think of; GP, Oncology team, friend who is a nurse, I asked friends to chase their medic friends. I wrote quite passionately and persuasively to my MP. I spoke to the local council. I called 119 and was told my circumstances did not ‘fit the script’- frankly appalled. The ‘computer said no’ despite the clinicians and the research saying a resounding ‘yes’.
After chasing all the small, local vaccination clinics a wonderful woman, who managed to do some well-informed joined-up thinking (a rarity) put me in touch with NHS Patient Advice and Liaison Complaints Support Unit. I had no idea they existed and it would seem I was not alone in this ignorance. Another wonderful woman at the Central and West branch put my case to the next tier up and they have approved a second dose for me to be administered in my next window of opportunity. This will take me to 9 weeks between doses; not great but better than the stipulated 12 weeks.
I hope my legwork might help anyone else also fighting the system. It really shouldn’t have been this difficult!
My struggles may have been due to limited supply of Pfizer but I suspect much is to do with poorly coordinated information and the rigidity of the system. Please do advocate for your own health and protection if like me you are vulnerable. This is not queue jumping, it is simply the only way to gain the level of protection that most folk will achieve through one jab. Prevention is always better than expensive, stressful and difficult treatment. Or much worse.
Hi, I got my first vaccination in February and my second about 8 weeks later. In between these two dates I was started on chemo. I think I was incredibly lucky in that my oncologist simply said he wanted me to have the second one ASAP, or in other words NOW and it happened !!! The hospital where I have my treatment was giving Covid vaccinations to some people so I had it there. Can you find out if your hospital does the same, and get your oncologist to push for you to have it there. As you say it shouldn’t be that difficult for immunity suppressed patients.
My oncologist (and GP) couldn’t be more supportive but I am having my treatment privately and the hospital I attend is not vaccinating. Neither is the other local NHS hospital. This is truly a postcode lottery. Those who have the energy to chase and question and demand might get lucky but this is so onerous for cancer patients. Time wasted eating for the second dose is time during which patients face unnecessary risk and the accompanying stress.The vaccination programme and those who run it need to listen to clinicians, adapt more urgently to new research and meet time sensitive needs of individuals. My struggle may hopefully be over. I hope others will be more fortunate.
Good luck to all those chasing! Klertie
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