It is hoped that all 14,000 people in the over-80 priority group, as well as all residents in care homes, will have been vaccinated by the end of January. Anyone who is in that age group who has not heard from their GP about the Covid vaccine has been asked to wait for their GP practice to invite them.
Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough clinical commissioning group (CCG) which runs the community vaccination programme, is also a local GP.
He said: “It is really exciting to be delivering vaccinations to local residents and gives us some light at the end of the tunnel. I have been in the clinics vaccinating residents myself, and it is great to see how much residents want and appreciate their vaccine.
“We are booking people in for their vaccine starting with the over 80s first as they are most at risk of getting very seriously ill or dying from Covid-19 if they get it. We ask people to be patient. When you are eligible, you will be on our list and we will get to you. If you aren’t registered with a GP, or your contact details aren’t up-to-date, now would be good time to get that sorted so we can invite you when your turn comes.”
People in priority groups have been invited by their local GP to attend a vaccination appointment in the same way they would be informed of a flu jab. Some are invited with only 48 hours’ notice, depending on deliveries. Only people with an appointment can get vaccinated at the centres, so residents are being asked not to just turn up without an appointment.
As well as the centres in Wigan and Leigh which opened before Christmas, another two sites in the borough are being set up this week – St Peter’s Pavilion in Hindley and Golborne Parkside Sports and Community Centre.
An additional regional vaccination centre has been opened at the Manchester Tennis and Football Centre which is part of the Etihad Stadium campus. Some residents within Wigan have been invited to get vaccinated at these regional sites by NHS England, but all eligible patients will still be invited to take part in the local vaccination programme taking place in the borough. If patients already have an appointment at a local vaccination centre, they should ignore the letter and attend their booked appointment in the borough.
Currently, the guidance does not allow for vaccinating housebound patients, but it is anticipated that new guidance to be published soon will change this.
Professor Kate Ardern, director of public health at Wigan Council, said: “The rollout of vaccines is extremely positive news, but as we have seen in recent weeks with the new strain of Covid-19 impacting on our local rates of infection, this is no time for complacency.
“Our teams across Wigan borough are focussing their efforts on accelerating the rollout of the vaccine with council staff supporting the four centres. We are reaching another crucial stage and it is vital that each one of us continues to do our bit to reduce the strain on health services.
“The vaccine protects the individual from becoming seriously ill from Covid, it doesn’t stop that person from being able to pass on the virus to others. Please comply with the lockdown restrictions and remember the 4Ws: watch your distance, wear a face covering, wash your hands and work from home if you can to minimise all unnecessary contact with others.”
The first patients to be vaccinated in the borough were automatically given a second appointment three weeks later, in line with the guidance at that time. These appointments were confirmed over the phone, in person and, in some cases, in writing before the guidance was changed, recommending a longer wait between each dose of the vaccine. To avoid confusion and distress which could be caused by cancelling the appointments, it was agreed that these second doses would still be given.
A small number of vaccines appointments were moved due to changes in delivery times, but no first-dose appointments have been cancelled.
Second doses for health and social care staff were cancelled in line with the latest advice.https://925838fa3c956c380f5bd07317c2cf1b.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
All patients being offered a vaccine now are being booked for their second dose between 10 and 12 weeks after their first.
A spokesperson for Wigan Borough CCG said the organisation has not received any feedback from GP practices about patients turning down the coronavirus vaccine so this is not believed to be an issue at this time.