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When will I be offered the Covid 19 vaccine?

The NHS is working hard to get the vaccine to everyone who is eligible as quickly as possible. Please do not contact your GP or other NHS service to ask for the vaccine; you will be invited to receive it when it is your turn.

Currently, the NHS is working to make the vaccine available to:

  • people aged 80 and over
  • people who work in care homes for older people
  • people who live in care homes for older people (initially care homes with 50 or more residents)
    health and social care workers at high risk.

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide timescales for when other groups will receive the vaccine.

Where will I get the vaccine?

In Sussex, most of our hospitals are now ‘hospital hubs’, where some over-80s who are being discharged from hospital or who have outpatient appointments are being vaccinated, as well as frontline healthcare workers. In excess of 20 GP-led local vaccination services have also started delivering the vaccine.

The vaccination programme will be expanding over the coming weeks and months, to include:

  • The establishment of larger vaccination centres
  • An expansion of the roving service to take the vaccine into care homes and people’s own homes if they cannot attend a vaccination site.
  • A priority in the NHS planning is to ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.

Will my GP surgery be offering the Covid vaccine?

GP surgeries are working together in groups to ensure that patients can receive the vaccine locally, while also maintaining usual services for patients. In some instances community health teams may also be providing the vaccine.

You will be told where to go when an appointment is made for you and if you need help getting there, such as patient transport, this will be discussed with you at that time.

Who will contact me to offer me the vaccine?

You will be contacted by the first NHS service that is able to offer you a vaccination. This may be your GP or the national booking service.

The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Again, it’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.

How will I be contacted?

You may be contacted by telephone or by SMS/text message.

What if I miss the call for a vaccine?

If you miss a call to offer you the vaccine you will remain on the list and the practice/team will contact you again. If they cannot get through to you by telephone they will contact you by letter.

What if I miss my appointment for either dose of the vaccine?

If you miss your appointment the vaccine team will attempt to rebook you, contacting you either by telephone, by letter, or both methods if necessary.

What is the priority order for receiving the vaccine, and who decides this?

The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of death from COVID-19 and the protection of health and social care staff and systems. Secondary priorities could include vaccination of those at increased risk of hospitalisation and at increased risk of exposure, and to maintain resilience in essential public services.

It will take a while to gather evidence of the effects of the vaccination on transmission of the virus, i.e. whether people who have had the vaccine can still catch and spread the virus. In addition, at the start of the vaccination programme, vaccine availability will be limited, though this will improve as time goes on. The JCVI therefore advises that the best option in the initial phase of the programme is to directly protect the people who are most at risk of becoming seriously ill.

Why do I have to wait to be vaccinated?

The COVID-19 vaccine is a remarkable scientific breakthrough but it will take time to get it to everyone who needs it. We are asking people to be patient.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll have more vaccination services up and running across Sussex as we receive more supplies of the vaccines, including in care homes and people’s own homes if they can’t get to a site.

How will you get the vaccine to people with no fixed address (homeless, in temporary accommodation, etc?)

NHS services and local authorities have a range of established means for engaging with these groups. We are currently working with our partners across the NHS, in local authorities, and in the voluntary and community sector to establish processes to ensure that all people in these groups are identified and offered a vaccination as they become eligible.

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 (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the vaccine when it is their time to do so.

How is the NHS in Sussex encouraging people to take up the vaccine?

In Sussex we are using a range of communications materials to communicate about the vaccine, and hope to provide these in alternative languages and formats.

We are also introducing Vaccination Champions, who are members of the public who have volunteered to raise awareness of the vaccine, share NHS information about it, and to dispel any myths.

Can I still attend my vaccine appointment during the current lockdown?

Yes. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, or any other vaccine, is an important medical appointment and so is within the rules wherever you live. Vaccinations will continue as normal in all areas regardless of the lockdown. If you have booked or are offered an appointment, please do attend it. The place where you have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas.

Please wear a face covering to your appointment. You should also take the usual steps to minimise your risk as you travel to your appointment.

Why aren’t all healthcare workers getting vaccinated right now?

The Government has confirmed that the vast majority of vaccinations administered by the NHS in this initial phase will be prioritised for those aged 80 and over, for care home residents, and for care home and frontline health and social care workers.

Can I get one privately?

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 and/or Local Trading Standards.

How is the vaccine going to be stored? Do you have enough freezers?

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. Special freezers are required for this and each centre that is using this vaccine will have appropriate storage.. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, however, can be stored at fridge temperatures (2-8°C), making it easier to distribute to care homes and other locations.

Do vulnerable people have to travel to get the vaccine or does it come to them?

We are planning a mixed approach to ensuring that people who are eligible can get the vaccine safely. For care home residents and those who can’t leave home, this will involve roving community teams coming to them.

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that a family member or friend is still permitted to take elderly patients to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment under new tier 4 rules. This is under the exemption of ‘providing care for the vulnerable’. All of the usual precautions should be taken, however, including the wearing of face masks by both parties, the patient sitting in the back of the car where possible, and windows open for ventilation.

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