The NHS has planned extensively to deliver the largest vaccination programme in our history. Through their position in local neighbourhoods, GP practices are well placed to reach out to our diverse communities and avoid inequalities in access. They have an important role in delivering the COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside other providers. Now that we have a vaccine that has been confirmed as safe and effective by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and once supplies are available to us, we can begin to roll it out to those groups who need it most. The NHS wants to go as fast as it can and is recruiting more vaccinators and support staff from across the NHS and outside of it, all of whom will be trained, assessed and supervised.
Public statement – Published 2 December
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “This is an important next step in our response to the Coronavirus pandemic and hospitals will shortly kick off the first phase of the largest scale vaccination campaign in our country’s history. “The NHS has a proven track record of delivering large scale vaccinations from the winter flu jab to BCG and, once the final hurdles are cleared and the vaccine arrives in England’s hospitals, health service staff will begin offering people this ground-breaking jab in a programme that will expand to cover the whole country in the coming months.”
When will I be vaccinated?
To enable everyone to get the vaccine in a safe and controlled way, a prioritisation list has been established with care home residents and staff and older people among the first to receive it. The current vaccine (Pfizer) is complex as it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures and moved carefully in large doses. For the moment the MHRA hasn’t authorised splitting up those doses so they need to be stored and administered via hospital ‘hubs’.
We will be running our first clinic at Bartlemas Surgery on the weekend of 19 December 2020, and we will be contacting the eligible cohort once we know who has opted in.
How will I know when I will be able to get vaccinated?
The NHS will contact you when you are eligible to be vaccinated and inform you of the location and date. You will also see messages in your local community. You will be able to book an appointment, either using an online or telephone booking system so that you can choose the right time and location to attend. There will be messages sent from the practice to all individuals asking them if they want the vaccine. This is an important question to answer as this will allow us to ensure that none of the vaccine is wasted.
What are the priority groups (the cohorts)?
1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. all those 75 years of age and over
4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (excluding pregnant women and those under 16)
5. all those 65 years of age and over
6. all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
7. all those 60 years of age and over 8. all those 55 years of age and over
9. all those 50 years of age and over
10.rest of the population (priority to be determined)
Where will I be vaccinated?
The NHS has well-established ways of delivering large-scale vaccinations across the country, for example the annual flu jab and routine immunisations for children and pregnant women, which are primarily led by GPs and community pharmacies and often delivered using local facilities. The delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme will build on these. Given the current requirements for social distancing, and the number of people covered, you will either be asked to attend your GP surgery or another location, such as another NHS building or designated vaccination centre that will enable people to be vaccinated safely. Bartlemas Surgery is one of the locations selected as being well placed to deliver the vaccine, with good access to transport links, and safe flow through the practice to maximise the social distancing required during these times.
Here are some links about the vaccine, courtesy of the BBC website:
Which vaccine will I be given?
There continue to be a number of other vaccines being developed and trialled, we don’t yet know which of these will be approved for use or when this might happen. Any vaccines that are available will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people can be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while.
Please act on your invite when it comes, and make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them, and please continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.