Tens of thousands more people across Devon are being contacted from this week, inviting them to make an appointment for their first coronavirus vaccination, as the programme enters a new phase.
People aged 65 and over and those who are clinically vulnerable (JCVI priority groups 5 and 6), together with an expanded group of clinically extremely vulnerable people, are now in line to receive the life-saving jab.
In this next phase, GPs in Devon have been asked to offer jabs to those over the age of 65 and people with underlying health conditions that make them clinically vulnerable – such as diabetes and respiratory, heart, kidney and liver disease.
However, this is a large group of people and practices are urging their patients in this group not to contact them about an appointment. GP practices hold data about each of their patients who fall into these groups and will contact them directly to arrange an appointment.
People with certain underlying health conditions are more vulnerable to illnesses and face an increased risk of severe illness or death from Coronavirus.
Phil, from Torbay, has type 1 diabetes. He was vaccinated this week and said: “I’ve been very cautious over the last year or so. As a diabetic, any infection can make my condition difficult to manage and this puts my health at risk.
“The slightest cold or flu can affect your blood sugars, and that’s very dangerous. So anything that helps remove that risk, makes me feel safer. It was a big relief to get the coronavirus jab. The whole process was quick and easy – I was in and out in 10 minutes.”
People aged 65 and over can book a vaccination at one of the vaccination centres using the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination and can choose from large scale vaccination centres or selected local pharmacy services. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free, anytime between 7am and 11pm, seven days a week. For people who are unable to travel to a large site, or who would prefer to be vaccinated by their local GP, they don’t need to do anything - their practice will contact them directly to arrange an appointment.
As with all vaccinations, people attending for a Coronavirus vaccination do not have a choice over which vaccine they receive. Both vaccines have been approved because they pass the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (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. Local vaccination centres rely on the national supply chain for delivery of the vaccine and don’t have a say on what arrives.
Unpaid carers will also be offered the chance to get vaccinated if they meet the national criteria set out by the Joint Committee for Vaccinations and Immunisations.
Sally Slade, local authority lead for coronavirus vaccinations in Devon said: “Being called for the vaccine in this next phase will bring many unpaid carers a huge sense of relief, but carers should wait to be called to book an appointment.
“If you are an unpaid carer and your practice isn’t aware of your caring responsibilities, there will shortly be a local contact for you to register your details. They will collect your information and ensure your practice has this so that you will then be contacted as part of the vaccination programme if you are eligible. Please do not contact your practice directly.”
Local people have reported being the target of scams since the vaccination programme. Devon GP Dr Trevor Avis has issued the following reminder: “Please be cautious of potential scams and remember the most important message – the NHS will never ask you for your bank details. No one will show up at your home to vaccinate you without having contacted first. They will be wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment (such as a mask and apron) and they will have ID to prove who they are.”
Between December and 14 February 2021, the NHS was focussed on the first four priority groups - people aged 70 and over, residents and staff in care homes, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and health and care staff.
The latest data published by the NHS show 342,397 people in Devon received a first vaccine dose between 8 December and 14 February. It is estimated that at least 95% of over-70s in Devon have been vaccinated.
The national target is to offer vaccinations to the over-65s by 7 March 2021; the rest of the national JCVI cohorts by 30 April; and all adults by September 2021.
If you are 70 or over, on the Shielded Patients List, or a frontline health and social care worker, it’s not too late to come forward and get a vaccination.