I visited Totnes vaccination centre for a second jab. Two doctors refused. Do UK doctors follow government policy above the well-being of people?

This critique falls into two primary areas.

1. The government ruling preventing doctors from using their discretion to offer the second vaccination between three and eight weeks for those engaged in supporting physical/mental health of people and others in vulnerable categories.

2. The decision to drop the government rules, such as face masks, social distancing and sports/entertainment gatherings leaving everything to personal choice. Office of National Statistics (ONS) said more than 800,000 people had the Delta variant in the UK in the space of a week in July 2021 before the dropping of the rules.

Two appointments with Vaccination Clinic in Totnes
Three Reasons for a jab after five or six weeks instead of eight weeks to 12 weeks
Details of UK government’s decision to drop safeguards against Covid-19
Figures of current UK growth of infections and suffering
Results from a Small Research to Switch Second Jab from three weeks to eight-12 weeks
US government policy for Second Jab of Pfizer Vaccine is three to four weeksLetter to head of British Medical Association.
Government continues to be selective in scientific advice
Letter to head of British Medical Association
A Request for a Doctor

I made an appointment, via the Leatside Clinic in Totnes, Devon, for the Pfizer jab at the vaccination centre at nearby Follaton House, the headquarters of South Hams District Council, in early June 2021. I needed the second jab to travel overseas to offer teachings and guidance. The clinic kindly made a prompt appointment.

Two days later, I joined a small queue of residents in Totnes and nearby areas for the vaccination.

Five weeks later, I made an appointment to receive the second jab. The two doctors on duty at the Vaccination Centre refused to give me the jab. They told me I had to wait for eight weeks before receiving the second jab. I have written elsewhere I would only take the jabs to enable me to teach or visit a family member in hospital.

I explained that I flew to Germany on 4 August to lead a 10-day Buddhist based pilgrimage which supports around 50 adults and children with mindfulness, meditation and sharing experiences to develop well-being and wisdom for daily life.

The doctors at Follaton House told me to return closer to the date of departure to Germany. I agreed.

I returned on Saturday morning 24 July for the second jab. I came for the second jab six weeks after the first jab at the same time as the previous week.  There were two short queues of around 15 people or less in each queue – one queue with an appointment and one drop-in queue. Population of Totnes is 8400 people surrounded by villages.

I told one doctor I could provide necessary information such as invitation to Germany, details of my work for mindfulness/mind-body well-being and Lufthansa air tickets.

I am eligible for the jab on Saturday 7 August.  I need to be in Germany on the 5th August.

Again, the two doctors on duty refused to give me the vaccination.

Government made the decision about 5 July 2021 to change the start of the second jab to eight weeks. I cannot find on the UK government website a statement for the reason(s).

Three Reasons for a jab after five or six weeks instead of waiting eight weeks to 12 weeks

I explained to them the three reasons for an early jab. I included the third reason as a supplementary one. I thought perhaps the doctor might give me the jab owing to age although I am in excellent health as far as I know. Apart  from a five day course of penicillin in 2005, and two or three fierce attacks of the flu, I can’t remember taking a tablet for anything else in the past 30 years.

  1. The regional German government gave permission in June 2020 for our pilgrimage to take place. In mid-July the national German government gave permission for UK citizens to enter Germany provided we had both vaccinations. As soon as the permissions were unexpectedly given, I made steps for the double vaccination. I needed the jabs to enable me to give teachings and support to the participants on our walk. (I would add that I do not charge a fee for leading the annual pilgrimage in England, Wales, France or Germany in the last 30 years).
  2. I did not wish to wait until the last minute to get the second vaccination in case it affected my health and I could not travel to Germany.
  3. I am 77 years of age. I am classified in the vulnerable age category. The numbers of infected people in Totnes and South Hams have increased significantly in the past month. If so, then the government would surely appreciate seniors requesting the second jab rather than making them wait from eight to 12 weeks. Everyday, we hear appeals for citizens to get their first or second jab.

You probably have to live in England to appreciate the frequent changes in government policy which contribute to chaos and confusion in the public sector, the private sector, families and individuals. I experienced a tiny dose of a much wider disconnect between our government, science and people with much suffering as a result. We are among the top 10 countries in the world dealing with infected citizens due to the Delta variant for every million people.

The two doctors dismissed these three valid reasons telling me again they would not permit my second vaccination until after eight weeks.

Take the science. Real world data shows one dose of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines is around 35% effective at preventing a Covid infection. After two doses, the figure is 88% for the Pfizer jab and 67% for the AstraZeneca jab.

I concluded the Totnes doctors follow the orders of the Boris Johnson government to refuse requests for a vaccination within an eight week period, except for people with cancer etc.

I found myself reflecting on the larger picture. Did my experience with the two doctors reflect a microcosm of a macrocosm – similar rejections of a jab at many vaccination centres?

Did countless others require a second jab for sound reasons? I would not regard desire for a foreign holiday,  not being in a vulnerable age category or a convenient time for a second jab as a sound reason for a jab within eight weeks of the first.

Isn’t the primary duty of doctors to support and protect citizens from sickness to the best of their ability rather than act as agents of questionable government policy?

Details of UK government’s decision to drop safeguards against Covid-19

Despite the incredible leaps in numbers of infected people, the Government decided from Monday 19 July 2021:

  • Face coverings no longer required by law
  • No limits on how many people can meet
  • Removal of social distancing (except hospitals and passport control)
  • No limits on people attending sports events, concerts and theatres
  • Nightclubs can reopen
  • Pubs and restaurants no longer table-service only
  • No limits on guests at weddings and funerals
  • No restrictions on communal worship

Scientists serving on the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) now recommend 30 million of the most vulnerable should receive a third dose in September as benefits of two jabs reduce.

The Delta variant, which causes 99% of infections, is twice as likely to result in hospital admissions. Other governments in Europe and elsewhere think the British government has taken a dangerous path in lifting sensible restrictions in what seems like the blind pursuit of herd immunity. International news show thousands of anti-vaxxers in London’s Trafalgar Square.

Figures of current UK growth of infections and suffering

At first glance, the figures for vaccinations in the UK look impressive. 88.0% of the adult population have received a first dose and 70.3% of the adult population have received a second dose.

British population is 68.6 million with approximately 55 million aged 18 or over. By Monday 26 July 2021, 46 million have had the first jab and  37 million have had the second jab. That leave more than 18 million adults without the second jab or without a jab. I wonder how many of the 11 million waiting for the second jab have sound reasons to receive the jab before the eight weeks ruling.

Perhaps a person needs to visit sick relatives/friends overseas. Perhaps she or he have an invitation to work for the welfare of people, animals or the environment. Perhaps a person needs medical treatment overseas as more than 5 million wait treatment in this country. Perhaps the person has another legitimate urgency to travel overseas. Others may require the jab before eight weeks because they work in vulnerable areas, such as the hospitality industry, care homes, health care or wish to visit sick loved ones. Such people would need to provide the documentation to receive the second vaccination within eight weeks of the second jab.

I cannot find on the UK government website the specific reason(s) for blocking a jab between three and eight weeks. If you have seen on the government website an explanation, please email me the link or post the link on one of my social media pages. Thank you. I do not know of ay other country with this ruling.

If the figure includes all 68.6 citizens, then 31 million have not had the second jab. These figures show the potential for a dramatic increase in Covid infections and long Covid due to the reduction of use of masks, social distancing etc.

British Medical Association report that there are more people per million in Covid wards in our hospitals currently than any other country. We already have one of the top infection rates worldwide.

Around 5.7 million people have suffered due to infection from Covid-19 in the UK and more than 129,000 people have died. A little more than 5000 citizens are currently in hospital receiving urgent treatment for Covid, mostly those who had a single jab or no jab. Yet the government has authorised the return of major gatherings, indoors and outdoors, with the potential for these events to become superspreaders. People who tested positive increased 24% in a week and a 50% increase in deaths in the same period.

Currently, one in 75 of our citizens are infected. It is often a frightening experience for them not knowing the impact on their lives, family and work/study environment. The Government appears to take scientific advice when it suits the government.

The British government has made decisions involving immense risk of life, sickness and death to personal choice. I regard it as the equivalent to telling drivers and passengers they can ignore using a safety belt in a car.

The full impact of relaxing restrictions seven days ago (19 July) has not yet been seen in the data.

Results from a Small Research to Switch Second Jab from three weeks to eight-12 weeks

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) changed recommendations of time span between vaccinations. JCVI told UK citizens that people should aim to have their second dose between eight and 12 weeks after the first. They drew the conclusions on a very small and selective study of a group of people.

Department of Health and Social Care recruited 503 healthcare workers for a study into the benefits of delaying Pfizer’s recommended three to four week wait for the second jab until 8-12 weeks.. Heathcare workers might be among the most health conscious group in the country including those who caught the virus. I do not know any other country recommending 8-12 weeks wait for the second jab.

Research studied the immune responses generated by the Pfizer jab concluding that a 10-week gap after the first jab produced higher anti-body responses.

The scientific advice fitted in line with the government policy to get as many as possible get their first jab and block access to the second jab from three/four weeks to eight/12 weeks.

Considering the highly infectious Delta variant, the researchers chose a tiny number of healthcare workers – none of whom fit into the wide range of citizens vulnerable citizens from those suffering with major health issues or in vulnerable age groups.

If the researcher had selected a sample of thousands of people of all ages, health condition and categories, the data might have been very different. The benefits of the anti-bodies of the first jab may have deteriorated for whole sections of society. Scientists report the government may well authorise third jabs in September to all adults, aged 70 or over, those in care homes and clinically very vulnerable.

The recommendations of vaccination companies worldwide of three/four weeks has not changed.

US government policy for Second Jab of Pfizer Vaccine is three to four weeks

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), America’s health protection agency for its 325 million citizens, states on its website:

“If you received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, you should get your second shot 3 weeks (or 21 days) after your first. You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible.”

It could not be clearer than that. The British government has chosen to ignore the medical advice of the American run Pfizer-BioNTech policy on second jabs.

Government continues to be selective with scientific advice

The British Government ordered a total of 497 million jabs with 100 million doses of Oxford AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Valneva and 197 million from five other companies including 17 million from Moderna. The government may well authorise third jabs in September to all adults, aged 70 or over, those in care homes and clinically very vulnerable.

I have researched the views of scientists alarmed at the high risks policies of our government. Epidemiologists, medical scientists, BMA, social scientists make a simple request – the continued use of good quality facemasks, social distancing and maximising ventilation.

I regard the wearing of a facemask as inconvenient as using an umbrella when it is raining, especially when going across to Totnes market on a Friday to buy my fruit and veg for the week. Apart from a ‘hello ‘and ‘goodbye,’ social distancing of a metre or more seems usual with the most people. We protect ourselves and we protect each other.

Britain has experienced 800,000 cases of the Delta variant in the space of a week during July. Twice as many went into self-isolation in the same period affecting families, working people and increased once again sickness and worry. There are 3.7 million people in this country regarded as very vulnerable to Covid, especially the Delta variant.

The government currently considers tweaking the NHS app to reduce the numbers told to go into 10 days of self-isolation. We read of people deleting the NHS app so NHS cannot inform them. The numbers will rocket again.

Letter to the Head of British Medical Association (BMA)

I am not critical of the two doctors on duty at the vaccination centre in Totnes. They were following orders of the Government who cancelled safety restrictions despite scientific data showing an increase risk to public health.

The respected British Medical Journal (BMA) has some soul-searching to do on behalf of its members.

Does the BMA follow the dictates of the British government or support around 150,000 doctors in the UK?

I regard the issue as a matter of ethics and compassion for every doctor.

To his credit, the head of the BMA, Dr. Chaand Nagpaul, has made public his profound concerns about the current policies of the British government.

I have written to Dr. Nagpaul with questions.

  • Are our doctors compromising their public duty by following the government’s rulings at the expense of elderly and vulnerable citizens from a virulent pandemic currently running riot in the UK?
  • Do rules matter more than compassion?
  • Does the BMA support doctors who prioritise the health needs of their patients over governments rules?
  • Are doctors forced into ignoring the widespread alarm of medical scientists and experts in the UK and worldwide of the dangerous course of the British government?

I believe the BMA needs to advise its army of doctors to make their priority the legitimate needs of all citizens. Compassion takes priority over political ideology.

A Request for a Doctor

Sadly, I have had to send an e-mail my co-leader, Ulla Koenig in Reutlingden, near Stuttgart in Germany that I am unable to travel due to the refusal of local doctors to authorise my second vaccination.

I would be delighted if a UK doctor stepped forward to give me the vaccination so I can support the families joining our pilgrimage in Germany.

email: christopher@insightmeditation.org

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2 thoughts on “I visited Totnes vaccination centre for a second jab. Two doctors refused. Do UK doctors follow government policy above the well-being of people?”

  1. Karen hazlehurst

    Have you tried asking your gp to get you booked for an appt? Explaining your situation. he/she might be able to circumnavigate the clinicians refusing.

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