I thought it might be useful to provide an update on the COVID-19 vaccination programme in this week’s blog as more people are being invited in younger age groups and it can be confusing.
As of 23 August 2021, the following groups are eligible for vaccinations and hopefully this list will help you to understand more:
- Everyone aged 17 years and 9 months and over will receive two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine with an 8-week gap in between jabs. People in this group can book an appointment online via the NHS website, call 119 or attend a drop-in clinic.
- People aged 16-17years and 8 months can be vaccinated without parental consent at a drop-in clinic. From 23 August 2021, this group will also be able to book online via the NHS website. All 16-and-17-year-olds will be offered ONE jab of the vaccine, under the guidance issued by the JCVI at this present time.
- Any 12 to 15-year-olds who are clinically vulnerable to coronavirus or live with adults who are at higher risk of serious illness from the virus, will be contacted by their local practice to book an appointment. They will be offered two doses of the vaccine 8 weeks apart.
We know the jabs are working to help reduce hospital admissions and the risk of people suffering from complications of COVID-19.
As a GP, I do hear of people who have had one jab catching the virus and still feel incredibly unwell. I can’t say this enough to my patients and Doncaster residents, that you will benefit from having both doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection from coronavirus.
Some people describe that they felt unwell after their first dose which makes them hesitant to come forward for the second jab. This is short lasting for a day or two at the most and is a sign that your body is producing a good reaction to the vaccine and that your body is building protection which is a good thing.
I always recommend that when you are planning to have a vaccination, be sure to keep well hydrated and have some paracetamol available so that you can take afterwards in case your arm is a little sore or you feel a bit groggy. Most people will expect a sore arm where the injection went in, and a simple measure such as a cold compress can help ease any discomfort.
The timing of your jab is important too as it’s understandable some people have put off getting vaccinated as they don’t want to be ‘unwell’ after their jabs when they have work commitments or have social plans to look forward to. This is why we have put more drop-in clinics on across the borough so that people don’t have to commit to a particular time, and you can grab a jab when it suits you best. If I worked Monday to Friday for example, I’d rather have mine on a Friday evening or on Saturday morning so that I had a couple of days to relax before returning to work.
The important thing to remember is that winter is coming and it will be here before you know it. With an 8-week gap between doses needed, it really is vital that if you haven’t had a first dose yet, you need to come now so that you are protected at the most crucial time of year.
Winter brings about many bugs and flu like illnesses and having COVID-19 on top, especially during the cooler months can increase the risk of complications.
For anyone who has had COVID-19 and thinks that they don’t need vaccinating because they have antibodies from the virus, those antibodies don’t appear to last for ever. If you have had coronavirus or have had it recently, we advise having a vaccine 28 days after testing positive or since your symptoms first started.
My final point in today’s blog is to quickly mention flu. Flu season is also approaching, and I would urge as many people as possible to get a flu shot this autumn/winter to help protect your health. Health officials are predicting a 50% increase in influenza cases and just like with the COVID-19 jab, having a vaccination against it can dramatically reduce your risk of experiencing complications from the virus should you catch it.
More people than ever are eligible for a free flu vaccination this year so please, take a moment to check if you’re on the list and get an appointment booked when you are invited by your local practice. For anyone not eligible for a free NHS jab, you can purchase one from a local pharmacy for around £10.