This week, three pharmacies in Sussex have started offering the COVID-19 vaccination to local residents. We understand there may be some confusion around how pharmacies are providing the vaccine and what the difference is with other services.
In addition to the GP-led local vaccination services and the larger vaccination centres, such as The Brighton Centre, the pharmacy-led services in Midhurst in West Sussex and Ore and Ticehurst in East Sussex are all providing the COVID-19 vaccinations to currently eligible people.
Appointments are being made through the national booking system and eligible people have been starting to receive letters this week to invite them to go online or call the national number to book their place.
These services are additional options for people, alongside the GP-led local vaccination services. When people receive a letter, they have a choice to use the national booking system to arrange an appointment at one of these pharmacies or a large vaccination centre. Alternatively, they can wait to be contacted by their local GP-led service to arrange an appointment there, if they prefer.
Further pharmacy-led sites are expected to go live in Sussex over the coming weeks.
Following recent media coverage about the Astra Zeneca vaccine, clinicians have provided reassurance that it is effective and should continue to be given to all age groups.
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisation at PHE, said: “Both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are safe and provide high levels of protection against COVID-19, particularly against severe disease. Data from the AstraZeneca trials on immune responses in older people were very reassuring.
“The risk of severe disease and death increase exponentially with age – the priority is to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible with either vaccine, to protect more people and save more lives.”
Both vaccines give very high protection against severe disease, which is the primary aim of the first phase of the programme, and both vaccines have good safety profiles. The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation does not advise a preference for either vaccine in any specific population.
As we head into the weekend, vaccination services across Sussex will be continuing their important work. Last weekend, 80 care homes were vaccinated on Saturday alone. This weekend, over 20,000 people are booked in to receive their vaccination at one of the GP-led local vaccination services or at the Brighton vaccination centre.
Sussex-based comedian Romesh Ranganathan is among a number of celebrities who have joined forces in a powerful video seeking to counter coronavirus vaccine misinformation among ethnic minority communities.
In Sussex, plans are underway to provide tailored information and support for all our communities, including those who traditionally experience health inequalities – including localised videos. Materials are being provided in a range of alternative languages and formats and we are working with community groups and community leaders. In addition, over 80 vaccination champions – all from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and geographies – are being trained to support people in their local communities, answering common questions and signposting further information.
Much more information about the vaccination programme is available on our website, including details of the services available in each area, latest data, stakeholder briefings, answers to frequently asked questions and links to all the national leaflets and materials.
Thank you for your support in helping to keep our local communities updated and informed about this fast-moving and unprecedented vaccination programme.