The vaccine questions you want to know answered by those organising jab rollout across Leicestershire

Thousands of Covid jabs have been given across Leicester and Leicestershire since grandfather David Brindley was the first in the area to receive his vaccine just over a month ago.

With the Government pledging to have all those in the most vulnerable groups injected or invited to be by mid-February local health teams are working around the clock to roll out and expand the vaccination programme.

More than 80 GP surgeries in Leicester and Leicestershire are already inviting eligible patients to have the vaccine, with the expectation that all surgeries in the area will be able to offer the jab to priority group patients by the end of this week.

LeicestershireLive put your questions to those tasked with getting everyone in the city, county and Rutland vaccinated.

Here’s what they said.

How many patients have been vaccinated here so far?

“Each week statistics are released by NHSE on the number of vaccinations carried out across the UK. Local data is not yet available at present.”

Nationally, we know that more than 2.5 million people had received their vaccine by Tuesday (Jan 12).

One GP network in the county tweeted earlier this week that it aims to have vaccinated more than 2,500 individuals this week.

How many jabs do you hope to be delivering per week and by when? And how will the programme be scaled up?

“The vaccine programme is accelerating. The number of vaccinations we are able to deliver is dependent on national vaccine delivery schedules.

“Locally we are ready to deliver as many vaccines as we receive to meet the commitments made by the Government. Now the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine has been approved, the quantity of vaccines is expected to increase significantly to make this happen.”

Last week LeicestershireLive reported that some vaccination centres are only finding out about doses being delivered the day before. But a city GP said that surgeries are prepped to be able to invite patients at short notice to give them out.

Where are the jabs currently being given and where else will they be offered as the rollout continues?

“Vaccinations are currently being offered to Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland residents from 15 locations (including Leicester Racecourse) two hospital hubs vaccinating a mixture of patients and staff and 13 sites offering vaccinations to patients registered with 88 GP practices in LLR.

“It is hoped that in the next week all local GP practices will be covered by a vaccination service. As the vaccine supply increases, we are looking at additional venues and the flexibility of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means we can offer vaccinations in more local venues, including pharmacies. This will make it easier for people to get a vaccination.

“Some patients may also have been contacted via a national letter to book to have their vaccine at a large-scale vaccination centre if there is one within 45 minutes of where they live.

“This is an alternative to accepting an appointment via your GP practice within Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland and patients can choose whether to go to the large-scale site or their local centre.”

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Have care home residents and staff received their vaccines yet?

“Vaccinations have commenced in care homes starting with larger homes with more than 50 residents and staff. This was because of the transportation requirements of the Pfizer vaccine. In the early stages of the programme, some care home residents have been vaccinated by GP practices, where residents were able to be transported into the practice.

“The arrival of the Oxford-Astra Zeneca vaccine, which doesn’t have the same restrictions, means it will now be even easier to vaccinate in care homes.”

When will I know when my appointment is?

“Patients registered with GP practices will be invited to attend an appointment to be vaccinated by telephone, letter or text message. Please do not contact the NHS asking when your appointment will be. The NHS will contact you.

“The NHS is vaccinating people in priority order starting with those aged 80 and over, health and care workers, and care home residents and staff If the NHS contacts you by text message, it will never ask you to give any personal or bank details in response. Please be aware of scams.”

Who will get their second dose and when? Have some people had their second dose appointments changed?

“Two doses of the vaccine are required for both the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. The doses will be up to 12 weeks apart. When vaccinations started in December, the two doses were scheduled to be three weeks apart but the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) changed to 12 weeks.

“This is because the evidence shows that one dose of either vaccine provides a high level of protection from Covid-19 and we can vaccinate more people at the highest risk by moving to 12 weeks apart.

“Unfortunately this does mean that some people had their second dose rescheduled.

“The second dose is essential to offer protection from Covid. It is essential that everyone does attend for their second dose.”

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Who will get which vaccine and does it matter?

“The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is being rolled out as fast as possible by the NHS across the UK. Now authorised, the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will be deployed alongside the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to increase the pace and volume of the UK programme.

“There are no current plans to mix these vaccines. If your first dose is the Pfizer vaccine you should not be given the AstraZeneca vaccine for your second dose and vice versa.

“Both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca are very effective vaccines. Comparisons between the vaccine efficacies are unhelpful due to the different methodologies used. Both vaccines have been approved because they pass the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get will be highly effective and protect them from Coronavirus.”

‘My neighbour has had the vaccine, why haven’t I?’ What order are people being vaccinated in?

“The priority groups have been determined by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations. The first four groups on the JCVI priority list are:

  1. residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  2. all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  3. all those 75 years of age and over
  4. all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

“We are currently prioritising those in groups 1 and 2 but will quickly move to the other groups.”

Health bosses say they are working through lists, when you are invited for your vaccine will depend on if you are in a priority group and which GP you are registered at. Mid-February is when the Government guarantees to have the top four priority groups injected or invited to be by. There is a lot of people to get through, but surgeries are working through them as quickly as they can.

Recently, some of the vaccination centres have looked empty or closed. Why is this?

“The vaccine is delivered according to national delivery schedules. All patients receive booked appointment slots for their vaccine to avoid long waiting times and manage social distancing. Vaccinations are paused in between deliveries.

“The vaccine supply is increasing which means vaccination sites will be offering appointments on more days each week.”

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Some people have reported receiving a letter inviting them to book a vaccine appointment at a centre in Birmingham. Why are they not being invited to something more local?

“Invitations have been issued nationally inviting patients to book an appointment at one of seven large vaccination centres that have opened across the country. The invitations are being issued to people aged 80 or over who are not listed as having been vaccinated at a hospital or GP service. If they have received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a more local GP or hospital vaccination service, they can simply ignore it.

“The seven centres are an additional option for people to get vaccinated if it is convenient for them. Five new GP vaccination services will be opening in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland this week, which means all local GP practices will be offering vaccinations to their patients.

“A large vaccination centre will be opening in Leicester in the next few weeks.”

Vaccinators – how many will there be? Who are they?

“Vaccinations are being carried out by a range of healthcare professionals including GPs, pharmacists, nurses and healthcare assistants. Some vaccinators have offered their support and have returned from retirement.”

Can I help?

There are a number of local NHS roles available but volunteers are also required. For more details click here.

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