Last week, the NHS’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination began. You might have seen that some of the first people in the country, and the world, to get the jab were Dr Hari and Ranjan Shukla at the RVI in Newcastle.
As the process is now underway, we wanted to let people know how it will work.
In Newcastle, the city-wide vaccination programme is being coordinated by Newcastle GP Services (NGPS) – the NHS Federation who work with us and all other practices across the city.
What this means is that they are working through a pre-agreed list of priority groups and then giving us the go-ahead to invite the relevant patients.
The vaccinations themselves are taking place at some large venues across the city rather than in GP practices. This means practices like JHP will be able to maintain our usual services, and the larger venues make it easier to keep to social distancing guidance.
When it’s your turn to be invited for a COVID-19 vaccination, we will contact you.
Please do not contact us, NGPS or any other NHS site asking to be put on the list. This will not change when you can get vaccinated and will make it harder for other people to contact us for help.
Not everyone can be vaccinated at once, and those at higher risk must be vaccinated first. That’s why a nationally-agreed set of priority groups has been set.
The top priority is patients and staff in care homes, followed by those aged 80 or over along with Health and Social care workers.
Next, it’s the 75+ group, and then people over 70 who are in high-risk groups.
After that, it’s everyone over 65, and adults aged 18-65 who are in high-risk groups.
It then goes in 5-year increments – those aged over 60, people 55 and over, and then everyone above 50 years of age.
The final step will be to cover the rest of the population.
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be a letter or phone call, either from their GP or the national NHS. This letter will include all the information a person will need to book appointments. Some services are currently 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. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first.
Some people who have been vaccinated by their GP may still get an invitation to a vaccination centre like the Centre for Life. This letter can be disregarded if you have already had your vaccine from you GP. This letter is not an invitation for a second dose of your vaccine and remember you can wait for an invitation from your GP if you would prefer to be vaccinated there rather than at a mass vaccination centre.
The Government has confirmed that the vast majority of Covid-19 vaccinations administered by hospital hubs and local vaccination services in the initial phase will be prioritised for those 80 years of age and over, frontline health and social care workers.
Please be assured that everyone who wants to have the vaccine will be able to, but as you will appreciate a vaccination programme of this scale will take time to be rolled out.
The NHS has also worked through distribution mechanisms to ensure that care home residents can now safely be offered a vaccination across the country.
Following the priority groups outlined above, the next phase will include:
all those 75 years of age and over
all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
all those 65 years of age and over
all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
all those 60 years of age and over
all those 55 years of age and over
all those 50 years of age and over
It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable deaths from Covid-19.
Details of the national advice on priority groups for the vaccine is available on the Government website.
The vaccination programme is still at an early stage. The NHS is offering vaccinations to those at greatest risk from Covid-19 first, in line with recommendations from the Joint Committee for Vaccinations & Immunisations (JCVI).
The first groups being offered vaccinations are care home residents and workers, frontline health and social care staff and people aged 80 and over. As more vaccine becomes available, we will be able to offer appointments to a wider group of people.
Vaccination of patient-facing health and social care workers will be co-ordinated through your employer.
You will receive an invitation to attend for your vaccine as soon as possible and in line with national guidance on priority groups.
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any vaccines that the NHS provides will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy. People should be assured that whichever Covid-19 vaccine they get will be effective.
Yes. The NHS would not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it was safe to do so.
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Thousands of people have been given a Covid-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
Read about the approved Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 by MHRA on GOV.UK Read about the approved Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for Covid-19 by MHRA on GOV.UK
Yes, all staff involved in delivering the vaccines will be wearing PPE, there will be a one-way system in place adhering to social distancing and all venues meet the requirements of Infection Prevention and Control.
The UK Chief Medical Officers have agreed a longer timeframe between first and second doses so that more people can get their first dose quickly, and because the evidence shows that one dose still offers a high level of protection. This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives.
The latest evidence suggests the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine provides protection for most people for up to three months.
Getting both doses remains important so we would urge people to return for it at the right time which will be between 10 and 12 weeks from the first dose.
There is currently no evidence that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal.
Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccines. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.
The MHRA has advised that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19.
It is advised that if you have had Covid you need to wait four weeks before you can be vaccinated.
People with a history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated.
People who have ever had a severe allergy (anaphylaxis) where the cause was not identified should not have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine but can have the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine.
The MHRA has updated its guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine. Pregnant women can discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks should they wish.
Similarly, advice for women planning a pregnancy has also been updated and there is no need for women to delay pregnancy after having the vaccination.
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the vaccine until they have recovered.
The guidance says this should be at least four weeks after the start of symptoms or from the date of a positive Covid-19 test.
We will be vaccinating housebound patients as soon as we have completed vaccinating care home residents and staff. We will contact you to arrange an appointment but please be aware that we will vaccinate people in age order, i.e. starting with those aged 80 and over
The vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups, and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime.
The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and never ask for payment or for your bank details.
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.
No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment.
Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police 101 service and/or Local Trading Standards.
Seven large scale mass vaccination sites have opened across England, including the Centre for Life in Newcastle.
People aged 80 and over, who live within a 30-45 minutes drive and have not yet been vaccinated, have been written to and invited to make an appointment.
This programme is running in parallel to the city-wide approach in Newcastle, coordinated by NGPS and us. The aim is to boost the number of people being vaccinated every week.
Here’s what to do if……You HAVE received a letter and:
You haven’t yet been vaccinated or have an appointment booked – follow the instructions in the letter and book your appointment at NHS.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119.
You haven’t been vaccinated but transport to the mass site would be a problem – you can choose to wait until the local programme contacts you.
You have already been vaccinated (first or second dose) – ignore the letter.
You have already booked your vaccination through the local GP-led programme – ignore the letter.
You HAVE NOT received a letter and:
You have already had the first or second dose of the vaccine – you can ignore the letter
You haven’t been contacted by anyone about the COVID-19vaccine – please wait. The local and mass vaccination programmes are working through the same priority groups. You will be contacted when you can get vaccinated. Please wait and do not contact your GP or the NHS about the vaccine unless you’re specifically asked to.