Since early December, thanks to the hard work of local NHS staff and the invaluable support of volunteers, the COVID-19 vaccination programme has seen a successful start.
Despite the complex challenges posed by the particular requirements associated with the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine alongside further developments happening at breakneck speed, the local NHS in mid and south Essex has risen to the challenge.
13 GP-led vaccination sites have already been mobilised since early December together with a further two local hospital vaccination hubs.
Subject to the vaccine supplies coming through, we are expecting all 25 GP-led vaccination sites across mid and south Essex to be live by the end of next week (w/c 11 January). Each of the GP-led sites are run by Primary Care Networks (PCNs) that see GP practices working together in geographic areas to ensure vaccinations are available to all residents.
This means that we will have begun to protect those over-80, frontline staff and our care home residents and staff in all local areas. The roll out to these groups is in line with national guidance in regards to which groups benefit the most. If you are in these groups but have not been invited to have a vaccination, please do not worry. Larger practices are unable to invite everyone in the priority groups to receive vaccinations at the same time. Local teams are working to the national vaccine supply schedule so it is difficult for staff to give exact timeframes.
Details of all vaccination sites as they go live are available on this webpage.
Last week’s announcement that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been authorised by the MHRA for use in the UK is very welcome and we are seeing more COVID-19 vaccine supplies arriving across mid and south Essex. Increased supply also means that vaccination can now be expanded to more care homes and frontline health and social care workers.
As the NHS gears up to open more centres in the next few weeks, the local health and care system is seeking volunteers that can help people to play their part in protecting the community and saving lives.
Dr Alex Shaw, local GP and Clinical Director of SS9 Primary Care Network said:
“The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken. Every single patient that we have vaccinated has got their own personal stories around the difference it's going to make. It is a huge challenge, but locally we have already vaccinated thousands of people across Essex and are continuing to roll out new sites as planned.
“We are pleased with the response local people have had to the vaccination programme but ask residents to bear with us. The local NHS will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine and we ask local residents not to contact their practice enquiring about when they will be called in for vaccination. Clinics are being rolled out in phases in line with the supply and delivery of the vaccine.”
The wider public have an important part to play to help their local NHS continue to roll out this vaccination programme, they are asked:
• please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
• when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments on time – please avoid arriving early as we want to avoid queues;
• please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.