GPs are working together to continue the roll out of the COVID-19 community vaccination programme in West Lancashire, which began at the end of December.
Over the coming weeks this will gain pace, with more patients most at risk of COVID-19 – aged over 80 years and care home staff and residents – being invited for their immunisation first.
Local GP Dr Darran Harris, explained: “Our GP practices are working together in groups to deliver vaccinations as quickly as possible to our patients initially aged over 80 years and to invite them into a community centre to be immunised safely.
“Importantly, in the meantime we are asking everyone not to contact their GP practice or another NHS organisation to ask for their vaccination – or to request one for a member of their household or their carer. Our teams are working hard to deliver the vaccination programme and could simply not cope with the volume of calls, and need to focus on delivering the roll out, as well as continuing an effective primary care service.”
All three vaccination sites are live in Ormskirk, Skelmersdale and Burscough in West Lancashire, and almost all of the over 80s cohort of residents has now been vaccinated with their first dose. Not all local premises or surgeries can become community vaccination centres, as they need to meet the strict clinical and logistical requirements of the programme. So, when it is your turn to be vaccinated, be prepared that it may not be at your GP practice or other nearby venue.
Dr Peter Gregory, local GP and chair NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “We understand the huge anticipation people have about receiving their vaccine, but this programme is on a mass scale and unfortunately not everyone can be vaccinated at the same time. Each of us will receive an invite when it is our turn to be vaccinated, either by letter or a phone call.
“You may therefore know others aged over 80 who have been invited for their vaccination already, but please rest assured we will get to you in due course.”
This is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken. It is a huge challenge and the local NHS is working hard to overcome any logistical issues as they may arise. So, the exact weekly roll-out of the programme will be largely shaped by the vaccine supply from the manufacturers.
Dr Gregory continues: “Our staff are working tirelessly to vaccinate their patients and we welcome the kindness and patience we have seen from some of our patients. We recently were instructed to reschedule second dose appointments for some patients and while we understand this is far from an ideal situation, our actions followed new advice from the UK Chief Medical Officers. The new medical advice is that the second dose of the vaccine remains effective when given up to 12 weeks after the first dose and should be given towards the end of this 12 week period”.
The NHS has a clear vaccine delivery plan but it will take some time for GP practices to work through the number of people aged over 80 that need to be contacted.
So, GP practices and the CCG are asking everyone to be patient and until people are fully vaccinated with two doses, they are reminded to follow the current restrictions and guidance and play their part by following these steps:
- Do not contact your GP practice or the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you
- When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments
- Even after the first dose of the vaccination, please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives by socially distancing, wearing a mask or face covering and washing your hands regularly
You can find general information about the COVID-19 vaccine here: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine
For a local set of Frequently Asked Questions, please visit: www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination/faqs