COVID-19 vaccination update, 9 March

People aged 55 to 59 now eligible for their vaccination

Vaccination centres

People aged 55 to 59 are now being invited to book their life-saving Covid jab this week as the NHS vaccination programme continues to gather pace.

The latest invites have been sent after more than 613,333 vaccinations had been delivered across Sussex (by Sunday 28 February).

The nationally published data shows that more than 94% of people aged over 70 had received their first dose by the end of February, along with 84% of people aged 65-69.

People receiving the letters are invited to go online to the national booking service to arrange a jab at a time and location that is convenient for them at one of the vaccination centres or pharmacy led services.

If anyone is not able to go online, they can call 119 free of charge.

The NHS is vaccinating in line with JCVI guidance which sees people invited to be vaccinated in order of risk, which increases with age. People aged between 50 and 55 are set to be invited shortly.

Update on vaccination for unpaid carers

Unpaid carers are eligible for vaccination in ‘cohort 6’ alongside those of all ages who are at risk due to an underlying health condition. In Sussex, carers’ organisations and local authorities are working together with the NHS to ensure that all eligible unpaid carers, including parent carers, can access the vaccine.

Around a third of carers will have already received their vaccination because they were eligible in a previous cohort. All other unpaid carers are being identified and invited in a phased process:

Carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance: These carers’ details are already known nationally, meaning they book right away at one of the larger vaccination centres or pharmacy-led services through the national booking service. Book online or by calling 119.

Carers flagged as a carer on their GP record: These carers details have been passed to the national booking service so they can also book right away at one of the larger centres or pharmacy-led services. They can also wait to be contacted for an appointment by their local GP-led vaccination service if that is more convenient. If they are registered with their GP as a carer for a person registered at the same practice who is now eligible because of an underlying health condition, they may be offered appointments together.

Carers registered with their local authority or a local carer’s organisation: These carers are currently being identified and their details will be passed to the national booking system. They will receive a letter inviting to them to book their appointment in due course.

Other eligible carers: An application process for any other eligible carers is being developed nationally and more details will be provided once confirmed.

Carers aged 16-18 will need to please wait to be contacted by their local GP-led service as only the Pfizer vaccine is currently licensed for their age group.

This is a large, complex, phased process and may take several weeks to implement. Carers should not worry if they do not receive their invitation straight away. The NHS in Sussex is on track to have offered the vaccine to all those in the first nine priority groups by mid-April, in line with the national target. This includes all those over the age of 50 and unpaid adult carers.

Carers who are not registered with a local carers’ organisation may wish to do so in order to get information and support when they need it most and to be kept up to date.

> More information and links to carers’ organisations in Sussex

Hastings rallies to offer free transport to support those going for vaccination

Free transport to support those going for vaccination

Photo by Rachel Manns

A new scheme offering free transport for people struggling to get to their vaccination has been launched this week by Hastings HEART, the town’s COVID-19 community support organisation.

HEART, short for the Hastings Emergency Action Resilience Team, sprang into action last year recruiting hundreds of volunteers to help people throughout the pandemic. Since then, it has undertaken thousands of practical tasks for people in the community, from collecting shopping, delivering food parcels to families in need, or ferrying vital medications to people in lockdown.

Now, its teams of drivers – who have themselves been vaccinated – are offering to help people struggling to get their jab centre under their own steam or are concerned about travelling by public transport. And, through support from the National Lottery, they’re offering the service for free.

Alastair Fairley, joint co-ordinator for HEART says: “We understand many people may not have their own transport to get to their allotted vaccination and may be concerned about asking friends or using public transport. Our Road Runners service is there to help.”

HEART volunteer drivers are all vaccinated themselves and are trained in cleaning their vehicles to make them as safe as possible for people to travel in.  It is only available for those with a booked vaccination appointment. Drivers will also wait nearby to then take people home once they’ve had their jab.

To request vaccination transport people can either visit www.hastingsheart.comand fill in a simple help request form or call 01424 235290 and request a call-back. Messages are picked up throughout the day and HEART aims to respond to everyone requesting help within 24hrs.

Bake Off star Nadiya backs vaccine campaign

Great British Bake Off star Nadiya Hussain has joined forces with the NHS to tackle COVID vaccine hesitancy and boost uptake.

Nadiya, winner of the Great British Bake Off in 2015, said: “Education is empowering. By educating ourselves around vaccination it allows us to encourage our family members, loved ones and communities to get the vaccine.”

76,106 people – 15% – of Bangladeshi ethnicity have so far received a first dose of the vaccine in England.

Nadiya is sharing her message as part of an international vaccination campaign, backed by the United Nations, aiming to increase vaccine confidence.

Text messages now being used by the national booking service

Text messages now being used by the national booking service

People who are eligible for their vaccination will now start to receive text messages by the national booking service.

People aged 55 and over and unpaid carers will be the first to get a text alert inviting them to book a slot and arrange an appointment at one of the vaccination centres or pharmacy led services.

The messages will include a web link for those eligible to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.

Reminders will be sent 2-3 weeks after the original alert to encourage people to get their vaccine if they have not taken up the offer.

People will continue to receive letters inviting them to book an appointment as well as a text alert, to ensure that people who don’t have a number registered or need information in different languages or formats don’t miss out.

Some GP-led and hospital vaccination services are already using texts for invites.

In some cases text messages have been used by scammers to try to collect personal details from people, get them to ring premium rate numbers or enter their banking details.

The text message will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine’. The NHS will never ask for payment or banking details.

Fact checker: Why have some people got a second vaccination booked and others are waiting?

Depending on where you received your vaccination and which vaccine you received will depend whether you had a second vaccination booked at the time or not.

If you have already been vaccinated and don’t yet have your second appointment you will be contacted to arrange this shortly by the place where you received your first. National guidance is that people must have their second vaccine at the same place the received their first.

More information

Much more information about the vaccination programme is available on our website, including details of the services available in each arealatest datastakeholder 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.

Find more information about the Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme