Covid Vaccination Programme
14th January 2021
We are currently working hard to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to eligible patients in the priority groups, at the same time as providing care to all those who need it.
The public have an important part to play to help us do this:
- please don’t contact the surgery to seek a vaccine, we will contact you
- when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments
- and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.
There are also a number of national vaccination sites that are opening and patients may receive a letter from the national NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service inviting you to book an appointment at one of these vaccination centres. If you receive a letter and are able to travel to the vaccination centre safely, we recommend that you book using the details the letter provides.
Please be aware that while we deliver Covid-19 vaccinations some of our routine clinics and appointments may need to be postponed or rearranged. We will contact you directly if this impacts you – please do not contact the surgery. If you do not hear from us, please attend your booked appointment.
Our practice remains open and you can still contact the surgery for any medical concerns you may have.
For medical advice outside of surgery hours, please contact NHS 111 on the telephone or online via 111.nhs.uk.
You can find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, including frequently asked questions and patient information leaflets here https://www.cambridgeshireandpeterboroughccg.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/covid-19-national-vaccination-programme/.
8th December 2020
Patients are asked not to contact the surgery regarding COVID-19 Vaccinations.
The NHS will be starting to vaccinate the most at-risk priority groups, including over-80s and social care workers in local hospital hubs. The NHS will be starting to call people who fall into these priority groups over the coming weeks to book appointments for them.
You may have been called by Addenbrookes’ or Peterborough City Hospital to attend one of the first clinics at the hospital sites. You can choose to accept this appointment or wait until more clinics and locations are available in the community.
When more vaccines become available, the vaccines will be offered to other people at risk as soon as possible. Please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine before then.
If you have not yet been approached about having the Covid-19 vaccine, please read the information: why you are being asked to wait. You can also find further information on the Covid-19 vaccine here.
Please continue to abide by all the social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.
12th November 2020
Media headlines last week spoke of “Covid vaccine by Xmas from GPs”. What does this mean for me?
Firs House Surgery absolutely want to be involved in any vaccination campaign, however, we don’t have any information ourselves yet, and contrary to media reports no ‘deals’ have yet been done, but we expect more information soon.
Whilst there are uncertainties about the vaccination programme’s priorities and the logistics of its administration, we are acutely aware of how the pandemic is affecting our patients. The last 8 months have been extremely challenging with many experiencing anxieties and frustrations as we navigate ever changing guidance and limitations in the way in which we live our lives. Staff at Firs House Surgery have consistently worked incredibly hard implementing new ways of working in line with evolving national guidance and safety systems, to meet increased patient demand safely.
We want to be involved in an effective vaccination programme serving our community and we look forward to such a programme to help us all keep safe and return to a more normal life.
But isn’t it just like a flu jab?
No, not by a long stretch.
Flu jabs are delivered in their own little syringes, and kept refrigerated. They can safely last in a vaccine fridge for several months. We can keep them and use them, either in dedicated flu clinics or opportunistically if we see you for something else. We can run the clinics a bit like a conveyor belt, as I’m sure many of you will have experienced. We can get a large number of people vaccinated in a very short period of time. People then leave the practice immediately. Once a year, job done.
So what’s different about a new Covid vaccine compared with the flu jab?
These new vaccines are not yet ready, and we don’t know when they will be. They are completely different. They need to be stored frozen in special dry ice, colder than a home freezer (about -70°C). Surgeries don’t have those freezers. So they will be delivered whilst they are defrosting for use. However they can inky be stored in a vaccine fridge for a few days before expiring. They don’t come in their own little syringes. We will have to carefully draw them up from a main vial, dilute and mix them for each individual which will probably take from start to finish about 20 minutes, needing two members of staff (one to draw up, one to check - this is established safe practise with these preparations to minimise error). Once the patient has received their Covid-jab they must wait for 15 minutes to ensure no serious reaction -these vaccines are brand new, and whilst there is a huge regulatory framework to ensure their safety, we will have to take extra care. This in itself will be difficult as we have to maintain social distancing and we don’t know how quickly these clinics will take place. It will be nowhere near as quick as a flu clinic.
Will this be at my local GP surgery?
To begin with, NHS England thinks that areas will have one central Covid-jab centre. This might be in a local practice. It might be yours, it might not. You may have to travel. How the chosen centre will continue to look after its patients ongoing and urgent health needs, we don’t yet know. No details of those plans have been shared yet.
Is it just one jab?
No. You will need two. They will be 3-4 weeks apart but you must not have had any other vaccinations in the previous week.
How many patients will get it the vaccine when it’s ready?
Government says it wants 40 million people vaccinated (that’s 80 million appointments). Putting that into context, every year there are 40 million A&E attendances and 360 million GP appointments. This is going to take a long time. There are no spare GPs or practice nurses. We don’t yet know how we are going to plan for this on top of what we are doing now - managing hundreds of acute and chronic patients every day: on the phone, over video and being brought into the surgery by invitation.
Will GP’s be getting paid to vaccinate us?
GPs hold a contract with the NHS to provide certain services. The money from that contract pays for the building, the heating and electricity, the nurses, receptionists and staff, clinical equipment and a variety of other expenses that go with providing services to patients.
If the government wants GPs to do something new, (e.g. deliver a new vaccine) it will buy that service from the GP to pay for the extra staff, clinics and hours to cover expenses. It is very unlikely that GPs will make a profit out of the Covid vaccine. Based on current information they may make a loss, but recognise that it is the right thing to do for their patients and communities.
But what we don’t know, is what we might have to consider stop doing, to free up time to provide this vaccination service, given that we are working at 150% compared with this time last year, according to our LMC’s survey.
Will it be available by Christmas?
No one knows. But if it is, there will be a very small number of doses and we think the Government might suggest protecting Care Home residents first.
Whatever you read in the paper or online, don’t forget - this is going to be very difficult. We need to make sure there is a safe system and a safe vaccine first.
Even when it comes, it won’t prevent Covid, it will only make its effects milder. So please bear with us - we are in the dark too.
And there is still every reason to think ‘Hands, Space, Safe’ for a long time to come.
Stay Safe, Be Kind