GP claims some vaccine patients ‘turning down Pfizer jab to wait for the English one’

Andy Wells
·Freelance Writer
·3-min read
CHERTSEY, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 16: A paramedic prepares a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as people wait at a COVID-19 vaccination centre on December 16, 2020 in Chertsey, England. Chertsey Hall is one of four covid-19 vaccination centres opening in Surrey this week, with others at Epsom Racecourse, the Westway in Caterham, and St Bartholomew and St Christopher Church in Haslemere. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A paramedic prepares a shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as people wait at a COVID-19 vaccination centre in Chertsey. (Getty)

Some patients have turned down the offer of the Pfizer COVID vaccine as they are “waiting for the English one”, a high-profile doctor has claimed.

The vaccine, developed by American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German company BioNTech, was made available to patients at the start of December, while the Oxford/AstraZeneca version was authorised on 30 December and has begun rollout across the country.

Dr Paul Williams, former Labour MP for Stockton South, has now claimed that some patients are opting to wait for the Oxford vaccine because of “nationalism”.

Williams, who was a GP before turning to politics, continued to see patients while he was an MP to maintain a link with them and, since he was voted out in 2019, has worked on the NHS’s fight against COVID-19.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “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’.

“People at risk of death in the depths of a pandemic. A lesson that nationalism has consequences.”

Watch: First Oxford vaccine dose administered in UK

Yahoo News UK has reached out to Williams, who was made an OBE in the New Year Honours list for his services to Parliament and healthcare, for more comment.

The Royal College of General Practitioners told Yahoo News UK that they had not heard of any similar reports from members.

GPs in England are starting the mass rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine as hospitals across the UK face rising numbers of seriously ill patients.

The jabs are being delivered to sites across the country as the government commits to offering a vaccine to more than 13 million people in the top four priority groups by mid-February.

Another doctor has urged people to take the Oxford vaccine.

According to the BBC, Dr Simon Stockley, from Eaglescliffe Medical Practice in Stockton, said he believed some people were making a decision as to which vaccine was better.

"I can well understand that people are trying to make a decision as to whether one is better than another and I don't think there's any evidence that allows you to make that distinction," Dr Stockley told BBC Radio Tees.

A box containing 10 vials, which can each provide 10 individual doses, of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, being used at the Pontcae Medical Practice in Merthyr Tydfil as the NHS ramps up its vaccination programme with 530,000 doses of the newly approved jab available for rollout across the UK. (Photo by Ben Birchall/PA Images via Getty Images)
A box containing 10 vials, which can each provide 10 individual doses, of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, being used at the Pontcae Medical Practice in Merthyr Tydfil. (Getty)

"If you are being offered the Pfizer vaccine now, waiting for something else to come along that is describably better seems perverse."

Dr Stockley was responding to the experiences of Dr Williams.

The first community vaccinations in England with the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab are due to take place in GP surgeries today and it is hoped that around 1,000 sites will be delivering vaccines by the end of the week.

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.

Seven mass-vaccination centres will also open next week in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown