Man denied Covid vaccine because he turned up on a bicycle

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John Cooper, 61, claimed his invitation letter did not state on it that the vaccination centre only allowed cars to pass. He had cycled some 17 miles from his home to a train station for a further 40-minute journey to the vaccine site, reports Wales Online.

I was just in bewilderment. What is safe about me booking a taxi and then sitting for half an hour with a taxi driver?

John Cooper

But when Mr Cooper took his bike to the facility in Carmarthen, south Wales, he was turned away.

He said: “Why didn’t it say in my letter of invitation that this was a drive-thru facility? Of course then I would have phoned the number given and rearranged the appointment.

“They do say in this letter you can phone up if you have particular needs or if the time isn’t convenient for you, but no mention at all of the drive-thru.”

Bouncers outside the centre suggested he would be allowed to get his jab if he called a taxi.

Mr Cooper, who lives in Ammanford, south Wales, added: “I was a bit cross and one of the bouncers suggested I should go back out of the entry to the showground and call a taxi and then I could drive back through in a taxi.

“I was just in bewilderment. What is safe about me booking a taxi and then sitting for half an hour with a taxi driver? There was no bending of the rules letting you cycle through, but there was that daft suggestion of booking a taxi, so I made my way back to Swansea.

“Then when I got back home of course I had to call that number on the letter to rearrange my appointment.”

The NHS has apologised for Mr Cooper’s experience. He’s since had a jab at another facility, but he wants to warn others ahead of their appointments.

He said: “The bouncers said to me they’d had to turn away various people for walking in, presumably they were walking in from the local area,” he said.

“The real problem was simply that there was no mention of this on the letter, because of that you’d think there might be a courtesy car or something for people coming down without cars.

“I think it could also be an issue for people who can’t afford cars, who go all there way down there not knowing they need one to be vaccinated.”

A spokesman from Hywel Dda University Health Board said: “We are very sorry to read about Mr Cooper’s experience at our Carmarthenshire Showground site.

“We have seven mass vaccination sites across Hywel Dda, and for operational efficiency and to provide as many options as possible to access the vaccine, our the showground site is managed as a drive through. All other sites can be accessed on foot. All letters for the Covid-19 vaccine programme in Hywel Dda UHB are generated centrally.

“We are looking urgently into ensuring that we do everything we can to make these clearer in terms of local services going forward. We do offer transport for anyone requiring this to access our mass vaccination site, and you can access transport to get to and from a mass vaccination sites through our Covid enquiries line on 0300 303 8322.”

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