ELDERLY and vulnerable residents were left queuing in the cold “like cattle” for hours as they waited to receive their booster jabs, it has been claimed.

Seasiders were invited to The Columbine Centre, in Prince’s Esplanade, Walton, to have their booster injections ahead of the winter months.

The vaccine top-ups are currently reserved for people who are aged 50 and over or live and work in care homes, as well as frontline health and social care workers.

Residents aged 16 and over who care for a vulnerable person or themselves have a health condition, putting them at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19, can also receive the jab.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Due to their age, Peter Brown, 79, and wife Mary 78, of Walton Road, Frinton, were eligible to have their booster jab at the Columbine Centre on Friday.

Upon arrival, however, at about 8.45am, the couple were shocked to see hundreds of people being made to queue in “freezing conditions” as they waited for the vaccination bus to arrive.

Mr Brown said: “We all had to stand outside for four hours.

“Nobody was allowed into the Columbine Centre, unless they needed to use the toilet.

“Why should we have to be treated like cattle when there was a perfectly good building for us all to be sheltered in?”

According to Mr Brown, once some residents arrived at the front of the queue, they were also faced with a lack of disability access.

“Remember, this was for the elderly and most vulnerable, those with zimmer frames and wheelchairs,” he added.

“But when you finally got to the bus there was no ramp for you to get up to the bus - there was only the bus driver who helped everyone.

“The staff did their best and got chairs for people, but I thought the Columbine Centre was for the community, apparently not - what a disgrace.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Unhappy - George Taylor, 70, of FrintonUnhappy - George Taylor, 70, of Frinton

George Taylor, 70, also of Frinton, had a similar experience while trying to get his booster vaccine.

He said: “I arrived about 10.30am to find a single decker bus attached to a long queue and then I was told they were out of vaccines so I didn’t get one.

“There must have been 100 people queuing out in the open, many very elderly or disabled, on a very cold day.

“The bus was parked in front of a perfectly good building with a large hall, so why not use that?

“Seeing those vulnerable people waiting in the open with no cover against the cold makes me wonder.

“I was told this stunt was being run by ‘an agency’, whatever that means - another shambles.”

Although more than 10 million people have now received a booster jab, the latest complaints come after pensioners in Colchester and Manningtree arrived at walk-in centres only to be told no vaccines were available.

A spokesman for the North East Essex Integrated Care System has now responded to those who raised concerns over the Columbine Centre's booster bus.

He said: “This was a very well attended walk-in clinic, which was due to operate from 9 am to 1 p.m. on Friday.

“We’re very grateful to the staff who worked hard from 9 am and stayed on until 4 pm to make sure everyone attending was able to receive their vaccination.

“With walk-in clinics we do our best to estimate how many people will arrive and it is really positive that so many made the effort.

“Usually, those attending a walk-in clinic at the centre are able to wait inside. 

“The bus has a moveable ramp which makes it fully wheelchair accessible. If a person requires the ramp it can be put in place with a moment’s notice.

"We thank everyone for their patience and encourage those attending walk-in clinics to wrap up well and cosy. 

"Having the Covid-19 vaccination will provide really important protection over the winter months so we urge everyone eligible to come forward.

“As well as walk-in clinics there is the option of making a booked appointment at one of the local vaccination centres, with more information available at sneevaccine.org.uk to see how to book for 1st, 2nd and booster vaccinations.”