Covid-19 Vaccination programme – 23rd November 2020
I am sure you have all heard the news that some Covid-19 vaccinations will soon be available.
We are not circulating this information to start a debate about vaccinations, having a vaccination is a personal choice which everyone is free to make for themselves.
We do not yet have a lot of specific information. All we know is that we have to be ready to potentially start vaccinating from December 1st.
We have to work as a Primary Care Network (PCN) to deliver this programme. Central Surgery, Church Street Partnership, Much Hadham Health Centre, Parsonage Surgery and South Street Surgery, will all be working together to achieve this. Between our 5 surgeries we look after 63,000 patients, so it’s a big undertaking.
Our PCN is working hard on coming up with the best solution for delivering this service to our patients. We hope to deliver the bulk of the programme from Bishop’s Stortford Football Club, as this was used successfully to deliver the flu vaccination to our population. However, we are also looking at other locations to complement our work and give us the ability to deliver the service more widely. Our PCN have an excellent working relationship and I am sure we will be successful in delivering this programme.
We have access to some limited, additional funding to hopefully recruit extra, short term clinical and support staff to help us with this huge undertaking. However, we will still have to divert our own GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants, pharmacists, paramedics and physician associates to support delivery.
It will be tough, but we are keen to get started, and know that we can count on your understanding and support in the months to come.
Why is this programme different to the annual seasonal flu campaign?
While we still have no specifics about the characteristics of these new vaccinations, we do know that they won’t initially be delivered to us in
single, pre-filled doses, as they do for flu vaccinations. Each vaccination has to be reconstituted and individually drawn up – which slows the process down. Each patient will have to have 2 doses, 21 to 28 days apart.
Clinics will still have to be held on a socially distanced basis, and patients who are driving themselves to their appointment will have to wait 15 minutes post vaccination before they can leave the vaccination site. So logistically – a bit of a nightmare!
Why work as a PCN; why not as individual surgeries?
The reasoning behind this is that the first vaccine (Pfizer) comes frozen and needs to be administered within 5 days. Furthermore, it comes in vials that each containing 5 doses. This will come with a diluent and the required needles and syringes. Once diluted the vaccine must be used within 6 hours.
So, if we get a big batch delivered (they are suggesting 975 vaccines per week) it is unlikely a single practice would have sufficient numbers or clinical capacity to deliver this individually. In addition, the vials cannot be divided at practice level and shared with other practices due to the regulations related to the distribution of medications.
At this stage, we do not know if we will have any control or choice over our delivery schedule.
The vaccine will be in short supply and we must try and keep wastage to a minimum.
As the programme progresses, and more vaccine becomes available, we may be able to adjust how we deliver the programme.
Which patients will be prioritised for vaccination?
This is still not fully clear and has not been confirmed yet. This will depend on the characteristics of the vaccines being administered. It is unlikely that surgeries will have any control over this part of the programme
We will do our best to keep you informed; this programme is bound to be subject to many changes.