Mass vaccinations to protect against the Covid virus began in Ledbury this week, with an initial 600 patients called in by telephone to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.

Ledbury Heath Partnership, which is a combination of the former Market Street Surgery and St Katherine’s GP Surgery, said the practice was calling patients “in a very strict order as per Government guidelines”.

Tim Peggs, Operations Manager for Ledbury Heath Partnership, said he wished to reassure local residents that staff had been working over the weekend, to help prepare for the vaccination process.

He added: “We contacted approximately 600 patients by telephone, and these will be invited to this week’s COVID vaccination clinics. I hope you can appreciate that this is a very rapidly evolving landscape at the moment.

“We appreciate patience whilst we work at pace to establish these clinics and ensure that staff are appropriately trained to administer the vaccines in accordance with Government guidelines.”

Social media is being used to help get the messages across, including an announcement that the first Covid clinic would start on Tuesday December 15.

The message stated: “Eligible patients have been contacted by telephone over the weekend and to confirm appointments. We will be calling in patients in a very strict order as per Government guidelines and the next batch of patients will be contacted shortly by telephone and/or letter.

“Please do not contact the surgery for COVID vaccine queries, you will be contacted in due course over the coming weeks and months.”

Ledbury has a population of around 10,000, so if the rate of vaccination remains at 600 a week, that would take the process into early spring.

Under Government guidelines, priority groups for vaccines include the elderly, care home residents, health and social care workers and people who are shielding.

The clinic’s announcements follow some concerns that very little information about the process had appeared online or elsewhere.

Ledbury resident, Michael Hakes told The Reporter: “I have a 91 year old neighbour, one of the high priority group I would have thought, who has heard nothing from the surgery by letter or phone call. I have to say that the newish combined surgery in Ledbury is not a proactive communicating organisation.”