Published: 06:01, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 08:48, 13 January 2021
A petition has been launched to set up Covid vaccination centres in the Deal area.
The signatures reached nearly half the 500 target in a day.
There are only two such sites allocated so far in the entire district.
A centre in Dover town, expected to start jabs this Friday, is the only one for the public: one in Aylesham is for health and care staff only.
The signatures are being raised by Deal town councillor Susan Carlyle and voluntary worker Terry Bishop.
They say it is too risky for the most vulnerable to use public transport and roads to Dover could be blocked due to lorry tailbacks after Brexit.
Their covering letter to the health authorities says:"With the escalation of the numbers of people now with Covid-19 the safety of vulnerable residents must be paramount.
"Many of us are not prepared to surrender all these months of careful prevention to go into potentially unsafe situations, however much we are desperate for the vaccination."
The letter, passed to the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group and Kent Online, adds: "Many residents of Deal, Walmer and Sandwich fall into the category for shielding and vulnerability to the virus.
"They have restricted their activities and their lives to keep safe, many not having ventured out at all for 10 months.
"Travelling to Dover during a pandemic for most elderly members rules out the use of public transport.
"Mobility issues for some and frail patients prefer a service which is closer to home and is familiar.
"Taxi travel for pensioners on low budgets may be difficult.
"And not having close relatives nearby most are without means of support to even find the service.
"A new problem facing Dover showed itself at Christmas with the lorry blockade.
"Since Brexit that makes travel subject to variation and will cause insecurity in terms of take-up of the vaccination so desperately needed."
The two say there are several places in Deal that could be used for vaccination such as the Golf Road Centre, Tides Leisure, the Astor Community Theatre and Landmark Centre.
The online petition, on a change.org web page, was set up on Sunday (January 10) and raised 242 names by the next day.
Cllr Carlyle and Mr Bishop set it up with Pam Brivio, a Dover town and district councillor and a member of Dover Senior Citizens Forum.
Mr Bishop is joint chairman of Alternative Christmas Experience, which provides festive lunches for the isolated.
The local vaccination centres are at at Dover Health Centre in Maison Dieu Road and Aylesham Health Centre, covering a population of 118,131.
This is out of 42 for Kent so far and other districts have more - for example there are four in Dartford borough, which has 112,606 people.
The petitioners' views were echoed by Deal pensioner Richard Sirot.
He said: "To quote Victor Meldrew 'I don't believe it'.
"This is despite the fact that local surgeries and pharmacists are willing and able to offer the service as well.
"I predict mayhem. Amongst other things, the local car park by the centre is going to overflow and people are going to be queuingoutside in the cold.
Mr Sirot, 73, of Sandown Road, is classed as high risk he has COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). He is also diabetic.
Meanwhile a Deal care home manager, who did not want to be named, said that the government needs to be clearer as to when residents will get their jabs.
She said:"Some of our residents would not be fit and well enough to travel so we are told that the nurses will come to them.
"But we have not been told when.
"Families are so worried they are now threatening to take their relatives to Maison Dieu Road to speed things up.
"These families have already not been able to see their loved ones since March except through a window or on social media,
"The only relieving thing is that our home has not had an outbreak so far."
The coronavirus pandemic, aggravated by the more contagious new variant, is now considered to be at its worst.
By last Friday there were UK 1,325 deaths recorded over a day, the worst rate since the disease erupted last March.
A total 81,431 were dead in the UK by last Sunday.
Roads to the Port of Dover are feared to be increasingly congested due to more paperwork for hauliers following Britain's total departure from the EU.
They were snarled up just before Christmas because France closed its borders to keep out the new variant of Covid-19.
A spokesperson for NHS Kent and Medway said: “The NHS across Kent and Medway are working hard to establish vaccination services for all areas. The vaccination service for more than 90% of our 200 GP practices have now been confirmed. For the Dover, Deal and Sandwich areas the initial GP led service is running from Dover from later this week. If further locations are added to the vaccination programme there will be updates on our website and as part of the direct invitations for people when the vaccine is available to them.
“Services for vaccinating care home residents are being rolled out and homes will be contacted with details. Residents will be vaccinated in the care homes whilst staff may be asked to use other services for health and care staff.”
You can sign the petition here.
Read more: All the latest news from Deal
Read more: All the latest news from Dover
Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich