This year has been a difficult one for us all as we have faced one of the greatest public health challenges of our time. The coronavirus outbreak has changed many aspects of our lives and we have endured many restrictions to try and manage the virus.
Last month, we received the fantastic news about a number of coronavirus vaccines which were under development and producing good results regarding their safety and effectiveness. Following rigorous testing and extensive clinical trials, the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer-BioNtech was approved for use in the UK by the UK’s medicines regulator, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority).
Plans are now being put in place to roll out the vaccine across the country. The NHS is embarking on the largest vaccination programme in its history and it marks an important milestone on our journey to tackle the virus.
I am really pleased that the first coronavirus vaccines arrived in Doncaster last week; two sites launched and another two are due to launch this week. Our Primary Care staff are working exceptionally hard to plan the phased roll out of vaccination programme in Doncaster. I would like to thank all of them for their continued efforts as they continue to provide normal services alongside the vaccination programme.
In line with the national guidelines, the vaccination will be offered to individuals over the age of 80 with underlying health conditions and who are most at risk. Patients will receive an invitation from their local practice, dependant on vaccine availability and be given an appointment day and time for their vaccination. It is very important to attend your appointment at the allocated date/time as the programme is not a drop-in service.
Patients will be called forward in the coming weeks or months; please do not contact your Practice to ask when this will be. The vaccinations will be delivered in phases initially and as soon as Practices are able to invite you to be vaccinated, you will be contacted. Please bear with us and wait to be called forward as we undertake this massive programme.
The vaccine is given as two injections with the second injection given up to 12 weeks after the first. Individuals may not be protected for a week or two after their second dose of the vaccine so it is vital you continue to follow the latest Coronavirus advice and guidance to ensure you don’t pick up the virus.
I know that there has been some fake news and conspiracy theories about the vaccination circulating on social media but I would encourage you to have the vaccine when you are invited. Like other vaccines, it is safe and has shown to be effective, offering 95% immunity. No safety concerns were seen in studies of over 20,000 people in clinical trials. It therefore gives you the best protection against the coronavirus although it may take a few weeks for your body to build up protection.
The vaccination programme is a really positive step in our battle with the coronavirus but it will be a long, slow process to enable us to vaccinate as many people as possible. It will take some months to complete the work as more vaccine supplies become available.
Please bear with us, you do not need to contact your surgery to arrange a jab, they will contact you, but come forward for your vaccination when invited to do so. In the meantime, we must not drop our guard. Please continue to follow the rules for tier 3 which apply to Doncaster and remember hands, face, space.
If we all stay vigilant in the weeks and months ahead, we will be able to look back at this decisive turning point in the bid to return towards more normal lives.
FAQs are available on the NHS Doncaster CCG website.
For more information about the vaccine and roll-out programme please visit the NHS website.