Coronavirus: Patients reject Pfizer vaccine to wait for ‘English’ Oxford jab, says doctor

‘A lesson that nationalism has consequences,’ former Labour MP says

Zoe Tidman
Thursday 07 January 2021 18:54
A doctor has said some local patients had ‘turned down’ the Pfizer vaccine for ‘the English one'
A doctor has said some local patients had ‘turned down’ the Pfizer vaccine for ‘the English one'

Patients have turned down the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, saying they wanted to “wait for the English one” instead, according to a high-profile doctor.

Dr Paul Williams, a former Labour MP, said it served as a “lesson that nationalism has consequences”.

His comments come as the vaccine from AstraZeneca and Oxford University started being rolled out across GP surgeries in England.

Boris Johnson, the UK prime minister, said on Thursday nearly 1.5 million people had been vaccinated against coronavirus, since the first patients received the vaccine developed by US drug maker Pfizer and German biotech company BioNTech in early December.

Dr Williams, an NHS doctor, said on Thursday: “Some local patients have turned down an offer this weekend of getting a Covid vaccine when they found out it was the Pfizer one. ‘I’ll wait for the English one’.”

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He added: “People at risk of death in the depths of a pandemic.”

Dr Williams, who was a GP before going into politics, clarified those patients would be given the Oxford vaccine later - but time might be against them.

“They will stay on the priority list,” he said, adding the Oxford vaccine would be offered to them when it arrives.

Dr Williams - who was voted out in 2019 and has worked on the NHS's fight against coronavirus - said: "Sometimes patients need a bit of time to make up their mind about these things, but time isn't on our side here!"

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was made available to patients at the start of December, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca version was approved for use in the UK at the end of the month. 

The Oxford vaccine started being rolled out at GP surgeries on Thursday, days after an 82-year-old man became the first person in the world to get the jab at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust's Churchill Hospital. 

The vaccine was first delivered in selected hospitals for surveillance purposes before being sent out to hundreds of community-based local vaccination services.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easy to administer given it can be stored at normal fridge temperatures, unlike the Pfizer jab which requires storage at minus 70C.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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