Covid-19 Vaccination in Sherborne

9th April 2021

The news about the Astra Zeneca vaccine this week and its potential relationship to rare blood clots is of course disappointing, however it is important that we keep it in context and make rational and informed decisions about vaccinations. The risk to an individual of getting a CVST (Cerebral venous sinus thrombosis) is about 1 in 250000 and the risk of dying from it is about 1 in a million. The risk of a Covid infection and its consequences is much greater for the vast majority of the population.

For those under 30 the JCVI has recommended that you have an alternative vaccine and we are expecting the Moderna vaccine to be available for the under 30’s in the next few weeks.

We are currently giving second doses of Astra Zeneca, this weekend and next. If you had your first dose and did not suffer any serious side effects it is recommended that you receive the second dose when you are invited. Some of you may have had flu like symptoms for few days after the first dose, but this is not a reason not to have the second dose. Generally we are seeing fewer flu like side effects to the second dose of Astra Zeneca.

The vaccination programme has been a remarkable success and it is important that we do not lose our momentum. It is a credit to the MHRA and JCVI that their data and surveillance has led to these safety recommendations. As the lockdown eases and we mix together more socially, it is predicted that cases will rise again in the Summer months. If people remain unvaccinated that will lead to a real increased risk of a Third wave, as they are seeing in Europe. So when you are invited for your first or second dose, please come forward and be vaccinated.

I attach a helpful leaflet explaining about the risk of Covid Vaccination and Blood Clotting.

Dr Rob Childs

27th March 2021

It has been another epic week for our vaccination programme in Sherborne. In the last 7 days we have administered over 3000 vaccines. We have now given over 13000 vaccines locally since January and just over 75% of the local adult population have received their first dose. We have invited all over 50’s for vaccination and are at least 2 weeks ahead of the targets we have been set by government. The uptake has exceeded all expectations and percentages range from 99.5% of Over 80’s to 90% of 50-55 year olds. We have also had enough spare doses to vaccinate a significant number of under 50’s as well. I am so proud of and grateful to the people who have made this happen. To the volunteers who give their time come rain or shine, the nurses, health care assistants and doctors, and those behind the scenes who coordinate and record and book your appointments, who are all working extra hours to make this happen – I say Thank You.

We have given second doses this week to residents of local residential and nursing homes and we also started to give second doses this week to the over 80’s and will re-vaccinate the remainder of the Over 80’s next week. If you have an appointment for Tuesday or Wednesday next week , please remember to bring your appointment letter with you.

We had some spare doses this week at the end of Wednesday’s clinic. This was because about 30 people did not attend for their booked appointment. I appreciate there may be lots of reasons for people being unable to attend, but if you can let us know if you cannot make your appointment, then we can offer the vaccine to someone else. I am pleased to say that not a single dose was wasted as people were called in at short notice.

We will continue to give more second doses after Easter and as soon as supply is assured we will recommence with the under 50’s. We will call or text you to arrange your second dose, which you should receive at some time between the 11th and 12 week after your first vaccine. Our call and recall system is robust, but please make sure that we do have your up to date contact details to avoid any confusion.

18th March 2021


Our vaccine programme locally has been very successful. Last Saturday in a single day, we managed to vaccinate 1926 patients. An amazing achievement. Thanks to all involved.

You will all have seen the news about vaccine supply in the next few weeks. Making vaccine is a complex process and each batch needs to meet rigorous standards for it to be distributed and used.

Occasionally, batches will not be up to standard and cannot be used. This is what has happened with the AZ vaccine production and is to be expected in the complex process of vaccine manufacture. It reflects the very high standards of production which is in fact a good thing.

We do have some first doses left for this weekend and next week. It is really important that if you are over 50 and that you for whatever reason have not be vaccinated or do not have an appointment, that you come forward now.

I appreciate that some of you remain concerned about vaccination. Please talk to someone at your surgery if this is the case. Some of you may not have received an invitation if we do not have your up to date contact details. If you fall into this group, this next week will be your last chance for several weeks to get a Covid vaccination. Please contact your surgery today and arrange an appointment.

This vaccine supply issue will not affect those of you who are expecting your second dose. We have been given assurance that supplies of vaccine for second doses will be delivered at 11-12 weeks after your first dose. We are starting next week with revaccinating the Over 80’s , frontline staff and nursing homes. It will be a busy couple of weeks before Easter as we are expecting around 2000 doses per week.

Despite the setback over vaccine supply, we are still on track. All over 50’s will have been offered or vaccinated by the middle of next week. If we have spare vaccine that cannot be used elsewhere, we will get in touch with some of you aged under 50 to offer you vaccination rather than letting any go to waste.

Dr Rob Childs

12th March 2021 - Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

I know that some of you are concerned by reports of patients getting blood clots after receiving the Astra Zeneca Vaccine in Europe. There is no evidence at this stage that this is any more than coincidental. Blood clots occur frequently in the population and many of you may already be taking medicines to thin your blood. So far over 11 million people in the UK have been vaccinated with the AZ/ Oxford vaccine, without any suggestion of an increase in blood clots over what we might expect to occur naturally. The most common side effect of the AZ/Oxford vaccine is of fever, headaches and aches and pains for a couple of days.

Everything we do in life has a risk associated with it, from driving a car, crossing the road or even going down the stairs and so on. We all evaluate these risks individually and make a judgment as to whether something is safe or not. However it is important to be scientific and factual in our decisions, and undoubtedly the risk and consequences to you of a Covid infection vastly exceeds the unproven risk of potential blood clots following a vaccination with AZ/Oxford vaccine.

So please don’t be fearful  and continue to book and attend for your Covid vaccine either at the Digby Hall or at any other venues.

I attach a link to the MHRA response Europe’s reaction to this vaccine news.

Dr Rob Childs

9th March 2021

Vaccine supply is increasing again and we are confident of vaccinating all of our residents aged over 50 before the end of March. There are 13,005 residents aged over 50, locally registered with either The Apples, Yetminster or The Grove Medical Centre. Of those 10,438 have already received their first vaccine. So that is only just over 2500 to go and we are planning a “Super Saturday” this weekend and aim to vaccinate over 1600 patients in one day. (Rugby afficionados will of course tell me that super Saturday is in fact the following weekend). This means that it is likely that we will complete the first vaccination for all over 50s before we start on the second vaccination for you all.

We have been informed that vaccines for second doses will arrive in the 11th week following initial dose. This means that we will have to rearrange vaccine clinics that we had planned from our first 2 weeks in January when we used Pfizer vaccine on our over 80’s and healthcare workers. Please don’t attend the vaccination clinic without a reconfirmed appointment if you fall into this group. We are writing to you if your appointment is affected.

Once we have vaccinated our over 50s , we will also look to vaccinate our 18-49 year old ( approx. 5000 people). We appreciate that our clinics are not always convenient for those of you who work, so if you are offered an appointment at a mass vaccination site, which is more convenient for you, then please take it.

For those attending our clinic on Saturday 13th March at the Digby Hall, we are expecting a very full car park, so if you can walk or park in another local car park, then please do.

Numbers of Covid infections continue to fall locally and we are now well below the national average. But please lets not risk a local resurgence by forgetting our social distancing.

Thank you

1st March 2021

Last week we vaccinated our 9000th patient. This represents over half of our adult population. At this rate we will meet all the targets for vaccination that have been set. There is strong evidence now that the first dose gives good protection and the strategy of giving the second dose at 12 weeks is very effective. Please remember however to stay at home, maintain social distancing and follow the rules, even after your first dose.

For those of you who were vaccinated at the Digby Hall in early January, we are now starting to plan your second dose. Many of you will have been given a date and time already, however this appointment will need to be confirmed prior to your attendance, as the schedules for delivery are not yet finalised. This applies to those who were given the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Your second dose is guaranteed but may vary by a few days from the original planned date. This is because the vaccine has a very short fridge life of only 3 days when we receive it. I apologize for this but as yet we have no control over scheduling of deliveries of vaccine. We will be in touch with your confirmed second dose date as soon as we are able to.

I do not anticipate similar issues for those of you who have had the Astra Zeneca vaccine as there will be greater supplies of this vaccine and the fridge life is a lot longer.

We are indeed expecting a “surge” of vaccine after the 15th March as the manufacturers are increasing production , so we may be able to reach targets earlier than anticipated, which would be a great achievement. Thanks again for your patience and support in helping us to deliver this historic vaccination programme.

20th February 2021

Our thanks go to the team who delivered 400+ vaccines in the Digby Hall this morning especially those volunteers in the cold and wet of the car park . It has been a frustrating week due to NHS England adding another 1.7m to the shielding list during a period when we have had reduced vaccine delivery. The criteria for inclusion in this additional list is based upon studies of those who have had Covid in the last year and their medical history. Inevitably there are patients included in this list who are surprised and indeed some who are there because of previous past history such as gestational diabetes. If you have received a letter telling you to shield and are unable to explain it then please call you surgery some afternoon this next week. (please don’t ring Monday morning as our phone lines may not cope !). The number of extra shielders locally is less than some of the more urban areas. We do know who you are and have prioritised you to receive vaccine (cohort 4b)

Cohorts 6 (age 18-64 with underlying health conditions) are currently being called or texted and also those in cohort 5 (aged 65-69) who haven’t taken up the offer of a mass vaccination site.

We have another 1200 vaccines coming next week and then 800 the week commencing 1st March. Our calculations show that these 2 cohorts and the new CEV amount to a remaining 2600 people locally. We are calling our cohort 6 generally in age order. So please be patient if you haven’t yet been called but do make sure we have your up to date contact details. If you have been offered vaccination through the national booking service by email or letter and can take up that offer then please do.

As part of the ongoing research into Covid and because of vaccine “hesitancy” in certain groups, we have been asked to record ethnicity of those vaccinated, so please don’t be surprised or offended if we need to clarify this when you book in at the Digby Hall.

Numbers of Covid cases continue to fall locally and in the last 7 days there were under 10 cases of Covid in Sherborne and surrounds. Lets hope for good news on lockdown next week and we can start to think about reducing restrictions and enjoying the summer. But in the meantime please continue to Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

Dr Rob Childs

12th February 2021 

Dear Patients,

We have had a very productive week vaccinating and after tomorrow’s clinic of 950 patients, we will have vaccinated over 7500 of the local population. We have achieved the national target that was set for us.

I cant thank enough all those people who have helped to make this happen, from the staff of the various surgeries, the town council, the volunteers and even those who have supplied us with cake and refreshments. The sense of community is heart-warming indeed.

That said, it looks like we are going to see a slowdown in vaccine supply over the next few weeks. This is caused by vaccine production not keeping up with demand and also planning and logistics to ensure that we can give you your second doses in the 12th week. We are only getting 400 doses next week as we move on to cohort 5 and cohort 6. Some of you will receive letters suggesting that you contact the national booking service to get a vaccination at an alternative site ( such as Morrisons or Bath and West Showground). If you are offered an appointment at one of these other sites and can get there, then please do so. We are not in competition with these other sites, we just want to get as many vaccines into as many arms as possible. If you are unable to travel to one of these sites , do not be concerned as we will still contact you in due course for a local vaccination in the Digby Hall.

Numbers of Covid infections locally are now falling which is good news, however the infections are predominantly the Kent variant, which is more contagious. Let’s not become complacent, the message remains the same Stay at Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives.

Dr Rob Childs

7th February 2021

We have passed some milestones this week in Dorset and in our vaccination campaign. I am pleased to report that having vaccinated 440 Shielding and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable patients on Saturday morning that we have now administered over 5000 vaccines to our local Sherborne residents. The other milestone is more sad in the respect that we have now had over 1000 deaths from Covid in Dorset during this pandemic. It is easy to become blasé over these numbers but we must remember behind each of those deaths, there is a family who is grieving. A sobering thought.

This week we will be vaccinating the cohort including 70-74 year olds. We will be administering 850 vaccines on Tuesday 9th February and another 850 vaccines on Saturday 13th February. These next two vaccination days will mean that all patients over 70, who are not housebound and registered with either The Apples Medical Centre, Yetminster Health Centre or The Grove Medical Centre will have been offered a Covid vaccination by next weekend. This is a great achievement. The next target looks to be to vaccinate all those over 50 by May 2021. I am confident that we have the capacity and the staff and volunteers to achieve this.

If you are over 70 and registered with one of the local surgeries mentioned and have not been offered a Covid vaccination, please get in touch with your surgery so we can ensure you get vaccinated this week. The light at the end of this long tunnel is getting a little brighter but until we get there please remember to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Dr Rob Childs

1st February 2021

Our next delivery of vaccine is expected at the end of this week. We are expecting 1200 Astra Zeneca vaccines. As you may know we are booking shielding patients (also known as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable) into an exclusive clinic on Saturday 6th February. There are about 450 shielding patients in our area.

That will leave us with about 850 doses of AZ vaccine which we will be administering on Tuesday 9th February to a good portion of our 70-74 age group. Some of you will have spotted that we will be administering more vaccines than we are receiving, but we can usually get an extra dose from each vial allowing us to plan for more doses in total. I expect a further delivery early next week to allow us to complete cohort 4 (age 70-74) as planned.

Many more of you this week have been receiving letters centrally asking you to ring 119 or to go on line to book your appointment for a Covid vaccination. This central booking system for the mass vaccination sites will offer you appointments potentially in Morrisons Car Park in Yeovil run by Pharmacy2U, or at the Bath and West Showground, or even further afield - not the Digby Hall. It is absolutely fine to take up an offer of a Covid vaccine at one of these other sites. The only thing we ask is that you do not double book or fail to attend for a booked vaccine in the Digby Hall as this creates administrative difficulties for us and may lead to wasted vaccine.

Please remember that we will contact you to make an appointment at the Digby Hall when it is your turn.

Again I would like to thank the amazing team of people who are making the clinics work so well at the Digby Hall. I will continue to update you as I have further news.

Dr Rob Childs

28th January 2021

We continue to push on with vaccination locally. We have vaccinated cohorts 1 and 2 successfully with a good uptake. We have commenced cohort 3 ( aged 75 and over) and aim to mostly complete that cohort by administering another 860 vaccinations on Friday 29th January at the Digby Hall. It will be a busy day. If you have an appointment, please don’t arrive early as it causes congestion and reduces our ability to socially distance from each other. The next cohort to receive vaccination will be the over 70 age group and the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) otherwise known as Shielding patients (cohort 4).

We appreciate that for many of you who have received the vaccine already, that this was the first time you had been out for some time and that had some associated anxiety. This anxiety might be greater for those of you who are shielding. To that end we are going to hold an exclusive clinic for shielding or CEV patients on Saturday 6th February. The hall will not have been used for several days, staffing will be kept to a minimum and as usual, all staff will have had a negative Covid test on the day of the clinic. I hope this will reassure you that it will be safe to attend the Digby Hall for vaccination on that day.

We will receive 1200 vaccines next week which will allow us to vaccinate our CEV patients and the majority of those aged 70 and over. Please wait to be called by your surgery for an appointment.

It looks like numbers of positive cases are beginning to fall slowly but we still have 30-40 cases per week in Sherborne. So please continue to follow the rules. This is important for those of you who have received the vaccine as well as you will not yet have full immunity and it is not yet known whether you can pass on the virus. So please STAY AT HOME, PROTECT THE NHS AND SAVE LIVES.

Dr Rob Childs

23rd January 2021

We have had a more frustrating week this week with Covid vaccination. We were only supplied with 400 doses. However, we have managed to vaccinate or invite the remainder of the over 80 age group. We have also commenced vaccinating those who are housebound. Next week we will be receiving 800 Astra Zeneca doses and be vaccinating most of the age 75-79 cohort. Please wait to be contacted by your surgery for an appointment. This will be by an SMS text message or by telephone.

We are aware that some of you have been receiving letters inviting you to the mass vaccination sites, in Bristol, Taunton or Bournemouth. If you do decide to travel to one of these centres please make sure that you cancel any appointment that you have locally, so that we can ensure no vaccine is wasted.

Our capacity to vaccinate is only limited by vaccine supply and we remain confident of vaccinating those most at risk by the middle of February, so do not feel obliged to travel to these centres unless you wish to do so.

15th January 2021

We have had another successful week vaccinating our local residents against Covid 19 . Last week we vaccinated over 1000 local residents over 80 years old. This week we have administered 1800 vaccines, amongst the over 80’s , residents and staff of local care and nursing home and also Frontline Health Care workers. A massive thank you to all the staff and volunteers who have helped to make this happen.

We are awaiting notification of our vaccine delivery for next week. We shall next be targeting the elderly housebound and the cohort aged 75-79. We are on schedule to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents by the middle of February.

However if you are over 80 and registered with either The Apples Medical Centre, Yetminster Health Centre or The Grove Medical Centre and are not housebound and for some reason HAVEN’T already been invited for a Covid Vaccination, please get in touch with your surgery to arrange one.

Please remember that vaccination is by appointment only and we will get in touch with you to arrange a vaccination date and time. It is important that we have your up to date details so that we can get in touch with you. We will make increasing use of mobile phones and texting to make contact, so please ensure we have your latest mobile phone number. Visit your surgery website to find out how you can easily update your contact details. Do not be concerned if you do not have a mobile phone as we will still reach you by landline.

Covid infections locally still remain much higher than in the first wave and there are still a significant number of new cases locally each week, so please follow the rules and stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

Please ensure this message reaches those who may not have seen it. Thank you.

Dr Rob Childs

Covid vaccination Lead for Sherborne Area Network

11th January 2021

We are delighted to report that our first Covid vaccination clinic run at the Digby Hall in Sherborne is went very well. By the end of last week we had vaccinated 1200 of our over 80s and health and social care staff.

Our care homes residents and staff will start receiving their vaccinations this week and we will be running further vaccination clinics at the hall by appointment only, on Wednesday and Thursday. Please do not contact us for your appointment, we will contact you when it is your turn for the vaccination.

All three practices are working extremely hard at the moment to ensure that we get as many patients vaccinated as soon as we can, but we are still open on our practice sites. If you have any other health concerns, please contact your surgery as normal.

Dr Rob Childs

31st December 2020

Happy New Year!

We have some good news to start the year off.  We will be receiving our first batch of vaccine (Pfizer Biontech) next week and our first Covid vaccination clinics will be taking place on Thursday 7th and Friday 8th at The Digby Hall, by the library in Sherborne.   These will be BY APPOINTMENT only. 

We will be following the government recall process on prioritisation of the vaccinations.  Our first cohort will be approximately 1000 patients over the age of 80 based on their age and clinical risk.  Do not worry if you or your relative is over 80 and doesn’t get called this week, we will be calling the remainder as soon as we get confirmation of our next delivery which will hopefully be the following week.

Following on from this this we would hope to vaccinate a 1000 patients per week so that we can immunise as many people as possible in a short a time as possible.

We will also be going into our local care and residential homes to vaccinate residents and staff within the next few weeks as well.

This good news however is not a reason for complacency. COVID numbers are rising in the Sherborne area. We had 40 cases locally last week which is a 50% increase on the week before. Please adhere to social distancing rules and protect yourselves and others. The finish line is now in sight, so please stay safe until we get there.

Dr Rob Childs



Please pass this message to anyone you know who might not see this message.

21st December 2020

Dear Patients

We are all concerned by the variant of Covid that is spreading in the South East of England. Rates of infection locally however remain below the national average and if we follow guidance on Hands, Space and Face and the rules on gathering at Xmas, we should be able to keep the rate of infection low.

Some sites in Dorset and Somerset have commenced vaccination and we have a site in Sherborne identified, which is awaiting authorisation and delivery of vaccine and equipment. The logistics of delivering a vaccine that has to be stored at -70 degrees is considerable but we have learned from the first wave sites as how best to manage this. It is also anticipated that the Oxford vaccine will become available shortly, which will ease logistic issues and increase our capacity to vaccinate you.

We anticipate commencing our local vaccination campaign, during the week commencing 4th January 2021. We will be vaccinating those who are most vulnerable first ( over 80 and those in care homes) and those recommended nationally by the JCVI.

The clinics will be by appointment only and we will get in touch with you to make appointments. Please do not call us, we will contact you.

We plan to vaccinate at least 1000 patients per week when vaccine supplies will allow this so that we can protect all of you who may be vulnerable to this illness and in as short as time as possible. This will be a considerable challenge for the local surgeries to deliver and I ask you to understand that we may need to prioritise some work so that we have the capacity to deliver this programme as we would like.

I wish you all a Happy and Safe Christmas

Dr Rob Childs

GP lead for Covid Vaccination in the Sherborne Area Network

14th December 2020

We are disappointed that we will not be receiving any Covid Vaccines this week in Sherborne. There have been complications with logistics including supply chain , IT issues and some providers have had problems with their cold chain storage. This is not surprising in view of the speed of deployment of this vaccine.

With the help of Sherborne Town Council, we have a site ready to go in Sherborne and as soon as we have confirmed dates of delivery of vaccine and equipment and logistic issues are resolved ,we will be ready to commence a safe vaccination programme on behalf of patients of The Grove Medical Centre, The Apples Medical Centre and Yetminster Health Centre.

The first cohorts to be vaccinated will be the over 80s and those in nursing homes. We will contact you to offer you an appointment, please do not ring the surgery directly.

Vaccination is of course not compulsory, but we are confident it is safe and that the benefits will outweigh any possible risk, and we would recommend that all who are eligible take up this offer of vaccination. You can find more information about the vaccine here.

Again many thanks to Sherborne Town Council for their support in getting us to this point, especially Jon Andrews, Judith and Roger who look after the hall.

Dr Rob Childs

GP lead for Covid Vaccination in Sherborne Area Network

Published: Dec 14, 2020

© Tree View Designs Ltd 2021