Vaccination Programme Update
Over the last few weeks, the NHS has prioritised those who are oldest and are most at risk, including Clinical Extremely Vulnerable residents of all ages. With a second vaccine approved for use, the vaccine will be rolled out to healthcare workers so that colleagues can protect themselves from the virus, and so they can be there for their family, friends, and patients.
Residents will be contacted by their GP to let them know how to get their vaccine, so there is no need to get in touch.
The NHS has robust workforce plans in place to deliver large numbers of vaccinations to the public. We will ensure we have enough trained and experienced staff to vaccinate as many people as possible, making sure this does not affect other hospitals, GP, and community services.
In Wigan Borough, approximately 4,000 vaccines have been administered in the Wigan and Leigh vaccination centres so far, including 400 care home staff. Next week, two more clinics will open in the borough. Before Christmas, the Wigan and Leigh sites each received one delivery of vaccine and so from these sites, we successfully delivered nearly 2,000 vaccines across 3 days. We have had a further delivery at each site this week and will have delivered another 2000 vaccines by the end of the week. For all four sites, we are currently waiting for updated vaccine delivery schedules so that we can start to book more patients in for their vaccines.
We have over 14,000 patients aged 80 and over within the borough and we are focusing our attention on delivering vaccines to these groups as it becomes available, considering patients’ age, comorbidities and ethnicity when inviting patients for vaccination to ensure those most at risk from COVID-19 are vaccinated first. As soon as we have confirmation of vaccine delivery, GP practices will be contacting more patients aged 80 and over to invite them for their first dose.
We understand how much people want to be vaccinated themselves or to have their loved ones vaccinated. We are set up and ready and as soon as possible we will get to them or their loved ones. Please be assured that they will be on our list and will get invited when we have a vaccine for them.
The change to the requirements for when second doses are required should mean that we can vaccinate people with a first dose more quickly. At the same time as this, we are working through the program to vaccinate care home residents throughout January. The approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should make this easier as it is a more stable vaccine that we are able to transport and store for longer.
Only people with an appointment can get vaccinated at the clinics, so residents are being asked not to just turn up.
It is crucial that given the rising rates of infection seen across the country associated with the new strain of the virus, everyone continues to follow the public health guidance, stay at home, and remember the three W’s; watch your distance, wear a face covering and wash your hands.
Residents will be invited to attend a vaccination appointment by their local GP, in the same way, they would be informed of a flu jab.
How long does the vaccine take to become effective?
The MHRA has said these vaccines are highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important. To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advises that the second dose of both the OxfordAstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled for up to 12 weeks apart.
Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible. Even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.
Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. All ingredients are published in healthcare information on the MHRA’s website.
Who cannot have the vaccine?
People with a history of a severe allergy to the ingredients of the vaccines should not be vaccinated. The MHRA has updated their guidance to say that pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding can have the vaccine but should discuss it with a clinician to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks.
Can I go back to work after having my vaccine?
Yes, you should be able to work as long as you feel well. If your arm is particularly sore, you may find heavy lifting difficult. If you feel unwell or very tired you should rest and avoid operating machinery or driving. The vaccine cannot give you a COVID-19 infection, and two doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. However, you will need to continue to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programs.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The MHRA has said this vaccine is highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is important. Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising the licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has said these vaccines are safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgment and processes. As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?
Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Are there any known or anticipated side effects?
These are important details which the MHRA always considers when assessing candidate vaccines for use. For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials. All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA.
I have had my flu vaccine; do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?
The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from the flu?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family, and patients from flu this winter.