COVID-19: Disruption to vaccine rollout as people trek for miles in snow for jabs - and others told to stay at home
14 January 2021, 09:47 | Updated: 14 January 2021, 18:18
Heavy snow has battered parts of the country, with people trekking for miles in freezing conditions to receive COVID jabs and others told to rebook and avoid the poor weather.
GPs in Leeds have been "frantically" trying to fill cancelled vaccination appointments - but elderly people due to receive a jab in Newcastle today were told to rebook and stay at home.
The disruption to the vaccine rollout comes after parts of the North saw snowfall overnight and today.
Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said there was "no need to risk travelling in the bad weather".
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"We're advising older people who are booked for their COVID-19 vaccine at the Centre for Life today to rebook for another day when the weather is better. It's easy to do by calling 119," it posted on Twitter.
But Lindsay Gollin, a practice manager in Leeds, said the surgery was trying to fill cancelled appointments.
She tweeted: "Talking to 2 pts (patients) who walked for 1+ hour in the snow to get their COVID vaccine. We are frantically inviting - over 100 cancelled appts to fill as snow keeps people home."
The asymptomatic COVID testing centre at the city's university has closed because of "today's weather conditions", it said in a tweet.
Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group cancelled vaccination appointments at the Priory Campus in Lundwood from 3pm onwards due to "the significant amount of snow across the borough".
In a tweet they said: "Anyone due to attend after 3pm today is asked not to attempt travel. Anyone unable to attend today, your appointments will be rescheduled & you will be contacted with a new date."
The two other vaccination centres in Barnsley remained open.
Danielle McSeveney, a Sheffield GP, tweeted about the impact the weather posed: "Not helpful for our vaccination clinics weather!!! Really hoping we can't (sic) get enough people down to use all the vaccine before the end of tomorrow."
In Doncaster, vaccinations were going ahead thanks to council efforts to keep hubs there open.
Anthony Fitzgerald, director of strategy and delivery at Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Our COVID vaccination centres are still open for those with appointments booked - please be careful getting here."
Overnight 11cm of snow fell in the Perth and Kinross area, while 5cm fell in Cumbria by 9am.
By 3pm, Bingley in West Yorkshire and Strathallan Airfield in Perthshire had reported 11cm of snow.
Forecasters warned some roads could be affected by the deep snow, leaving vehicles stranded and that there was a "good chance" some rural communities could become cut off.
The Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said snow had caused a "severely impacted" their services.
Members of the public were asked to call only in a "serious or life-threatening emergency".
Mark Millins, strategic commander at the trust, said: "Due to the very snowy conditions across West, South and North Yorkshire, driving conditions are very difficult and many roads are gridlocked so this is having a severe impact on our operations."
Further proof of the dangers facing motorists came from West Yorkshire Police, which warned on Twitter it had been "inundated" with calls about collisions due to snow.
While Police Scotland's road policing unit warned against travelling in the wintry weather.
The temperature fell as low as minus 5.5C (21F) in North Yorkshire on Thursday morning, and minus 6.4C (20F) in Dalwhinnie in the Highlands.
The rain, sleet and snow over central and eastern Britain will ease and die out on Thursday evening and overnight.
A yellow ice warning is in place until 10am on Friday, covering northern, central and eastern Britain.
Nicky Maxey, a Met Office spokeswoman, said unsettled conditions are set to last into next week, and she urged people to be alert for new warnings from the forecaster.
She said: "We've seen snow leave the M62 Yorkshire area and journeying now into the Vales or Yorkshire.
"It will push further south as we go through the day, likely to go down to the Midlands but becoming less intense.
"When we go into tomorrow there may well be an ice warning issued, we are certainly looking at some potential for frost.
"With the temperatures warming up through the day there's potential the snow starts melting.
"If it freezes overnight there's a chance of frost and ice tomorrow morning."
A different picture prevailed in other parts of the country, with the Environment Agency issuing 19 flood warnings for England - where flooding is expected and immediate action needed - across much of the east of the country.
Almost 100 flood alerts, where flooding is possible, are also in place, with a further eight in Wales.
The affected area stretched from Northallerton in North Yorkshire to Ashford, Kent; along much of the east coast and as far west as Birmingham and Manchester.