COVID-19 vaccine preparations

The Government has asked the NHS to be ready to deliver a vaccination programme for England from December, so that those who need it most will be able to access vaccinations as soon as they are available. In Sussex, the NHS is working closely with Local Resilience Forum partners on the development of these plans.

Detailed planning has been underway, building on the expertise and strong track record the NHS has already in delivering immunisations like the annual flu vaccination programme, to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccination programme does not impact on other vital services.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s most recent advice is that vaccines should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people aged over 80 and health and social workers, before being rolled out to the rest of the population in order of age and risk. This advice will continue to be updated as more information becomes available on vaccine effectiveness, safety and clinical characteristics. This will in turn be reflected in the NHS’s plans.

The NHS is currently working on ensuring the effective delivery of the programme, with a lead local provider being identified, and the government recently set out a new contractual arrangement for GPs and their teams that is currently being discussed through which they can support the programme. For care home residents and staff and older people, the NHS is establishing a roving vaccine delivery services in care homes and people’s own homes, working with local councils and social care providers. When eligibility is extended to wider groups, this will be supplemented by specific ‘mass’ vaccination sites, which could be within existing NHS estates or temporary standalone services.

A national public communications campaign will commence shortly, focusing at first on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in general. This will be supplemented by localised communications across Sussex and targeted engagement with communities who traditionally experience health inequalities.

As with this year’s flu vaccination campaign, a national system will send invitations an reminders to eligible people at the right time. It will provide an online and telephone booking system so that people can choose a time and location to receive their vaccination.