The local NHS is calling on all residents to play their part to ‘Keep Sussex Safe’ as it steps up efforts to roll out the COVID-19 vaccination programme to all adults from today.
Every adult is now eligible for a booster vaccine three months after their second vaccination and are able to use the National Booking System to arrange an appointment from two months after their second vaccination. Some local vaccination services will also be contacting people directly to arrange their appointment.
Nationally it has been announced that all adults will be offered their booster jab by the end of the year in response to the growing numbers of infections of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.
To date more than 670,000 people have received their booster vaccination across Sussex, and more than 80,000 vaccinations have been offered a week across the centres and services in our communities.
The number of appointments available for local people across Sussex are being significantly increased, with sites opening for longer and on additional days and new services are being made available in key areas. NHS staff are being redeployed to focus on this huge national effort to protect people as quickly as possible and military aid is also being put in place.
To allow the NHS to focus on giving people the protection and care they need, some routine and non-urgent appointments for other health issues will need to be rescheduled to the new year.
GP teams are being asked to clinically prioritise their services to free up capacity to support the COVID-19 vaccination programme, alongside delivering critical appointments such as cancer, urgent and emergency care.
Local hospitals are currently extremely busy and it is expected that the number of people with COVID-19 needing hospital treatment will increase over the coming weeks.
People are being urged to use all NHS services appropriately and only contact their GP with urgent and immediate issues and use emergency services only in an emergency. People should also phone 111 for 24/7 medical help and advice, use pharmacies who can offer expert advice on a range of common ailments and illnesses, and Urgent treatment centres in the communities for urgent issues.
Allison Cannon, Chief Nurse for the Sussex NHS Commissioners, said:
“The whole NHS is working incredibly hard to ensure that people get the help and support they need, and we urge people to play their part to Keep Sussex Safe and ensure services are there for those who truly need them.
“With latest data showing that the booster is our best hope of protecting people against the new variant, it is crucial that all adults across Sussex get their jab as soon as possible to protect themselves and others.
“It is also so important that people follow all national guidelines and infection control measures to stop the increasing spread of the new variant.”
Amy Galea, Senior Responsible Officer for the Sussex Vaccination Programme, said:
“Our vaccination teams are working extremely hard and are significantly increasing the number of appointments available.
“We are aware the National Booking System is currently facing high demand so if you cannot book at first, please keep checking as new appointments are being added every day.
“We also want to be clear that the focus isn’t only on booster vaccines and we equally want people to come forward for their first and second vaccinations to give them protection at this critical time.
“We are also continuing our work at pace to visit everyone who is housebound and who is eligible for their booster by the end of December. If you have not yet been contacted, your local team will be in contact with you in the coming days.”
Dr Elizabeth Gill, Chief Medical Officer for Sussex NHS Commissioners, said:
“It is important that people know the NHS continues to be there for you if you need us. We need to make sure people do not delay in coming forward with health concerns; if you have an urgent, persistent or worrying health concern please contact your GP practice in the normal way and they will ensure you receive the appropriate help.
“GP practices will be supporting the significant increase in vaccination appointments that is needed until the end of December and as a result routine care may be rescheduled to the new year. Your GP practice will be contact if there are any changes for you; if you have a planned appointment please attend as normal unless you hear directly from your practice.
“Additionally, it is important that our emergency services are able to care for our sickest patients as quickly as possible, so they should only be used in an emergency.
“We urge people to treat all our NHS teams with respect at this time; they are making these changes to help with the incredible effort to protect every adult across Sussex from this virus.”
All information about the vaccination programme can be found here: COVID-19 vaccinations – Sussex Health & Care Partnership (sussexhealthandcare.uk)