I have received a briefing from NHS England which answers some of the burning questions surrounding the vaccine rollout. Please see the information below.
Where will residents get vaccinated?
In the first few weeks when vaccine supply was more limited sites were limited in number and chosen based on their ability to handle the Pfizer vaccine, with account taken of the number of people aged 80 or over in their area, while ensuring a geographical spread.
By the end of this coming week there will be over 1,000 GP-led sites providing vaccines as well as 223 hospital sites, seven vaccination centres in places such as sports stadia and exhibition centres and a first wave of community pharmacies
We now have a list of vaccine sites on the NHS website regularly updated as they come on stream, so you can check what services are available in your area. You can find this here.
How can I find out how many people have been vaccinated so far?
NHS England has published weekly data report showing the number of COVID-19 vaccinations provided by the NHS in England. This dataset will be daily from Monday and will develop over time as we are able to quality assure data. You can find this information here.
How will residents know it’s their time to be vaccinated?
The NHS will contact people to make their appointments when it is time for them to be vaccinated. For most people they will receive a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are also phoning and texting patients to invite them in.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted, so that where possible those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first.
What is the guidance on second doses for Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine?
The four UK CMOs have said that, ‘Prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time’ and ‘will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services’.
When you book your first dose you will also be asked to book your second too. For most people this will be within three months of their first dose. The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed this longer timeframe so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose offers a high level of protection. Patients still need to receive their second vaccine, and it is important that they attend their second appointment once scheduled.
PHE, the JCVI and the MHRA state that if you have a first dose of one vaccine, your second dose will be of that same vaccine too and that is what NHS organisations have been instructed to do.
It is also important that anyone who has had the vaccine continues to follow government guidance on social distancing and wearing a mask as well as the additional measures in place where they live.
Who will deliver this vaccine?
The overall rate limiting factor over the coming weeks is the amount of vaccine available, which is higher in January than December, and will be increasing yet further in February, March and April. We have enough vaccinators to deliver the vaccine we currently have and have been recruiting and training tens of thousands more who will be drafted in as more supplies become available.
We are delighted that many former members of NHS staff, as well as existing staff and many others who have never worked in the NHS, have applied for paid vaccinator roles.
Tens of thousands of people have already begun and completed their online training.
We are working with the Royal Voluntary Service and St John Ambulance to recruit and train thousands more volunteer vaccinators, who will have all the relevant clinical training – as well as supervision - to ensure they can vaccinate in a way that is safe for patients and for themselves.
When will care home residents be vaccinated?
Local GP-led primary care networks have now vaccinated hundreds of thousands of older and vulnerable people across the country, including in care homes. All older care home residents are expected to have been offered vaccination by local GPs by the end of this month. The new Oxford vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer jab, so is now also being used for care home residents who often cannot travel to a larger vaccination service or hospital hub.
The NHS is making extra funding available to GPs to do so.
When will NHS staff be vaccinated?
NHS organisations have now started vaccinating staff as more supplies of vaccine are coming on stream. NHS England has written to Trusts to outline plans to vaccinate all frontline staff against Covid-19 following the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
From the middle of January, all NHS Trusts will be able to provide vaccinations for local healthcare and social care workers, which will be critical in keeping both them and patients safe. The life-saving jab will be offered to all staff across NHS services, including those who work in general practices, pharmacies, dentists and other primary and secondary care settings. It will also be available to ambulance trusts, volunteers and all independent providers, such as community-based mental health services.
What is the general advice to the public?
The large increase in cases hospitals we are seeing and the emergence of a new variant of the virus also show that we cannot let our guard down now and even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing guidance.
The public have an important part to play to help them do all of this, so we are asking:
- please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives – that means staying at home and following the ‘hands, face, space’ guidance when you are out;
- please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
- and when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments.