The Government has asked the NHS to be ready to deliver a vaccination programme for England from December 2020, so that those at greatest risk will be able to access vaccinations as soon as they are available. Across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, the NHS is working closely with partners across all public services on the development of these plans.
Detailed planning has been underway, building on the expertise and strong track record the NHS has already in delivering immunisations like the annual flu vaccination programme, to ensure that a COVID-19 vaccination programme does not impact on other vital services.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation’s most recent advice is that vaccines should first be given to care home residents and staff, followed by people aged over 80 and health and social care workers, before being rolled out to the rest of the population in order of age and risk. This advice will continue to be updated as more information becomes available on vaccine effectiveness, safety and clinical characteristics. This will in turn be reflected in the NHS’s plans.
For care home residents and staff and people who are housebound, the NHS will establish roving vaccine delivery services in care homes and people’s own homes, working with local councils and social care providers. For others and as eligibility is extended, this will be supplemented by local vaccination sites, which could be within existing NHS buildings or temporary standalone services.
The NHS will be recruiting as many trained and experienced vaccinators as possible, including those already working in primary care. The Government recently set out details of a new contractual agreement for GPs and their teams through which they can support the programme. Experienced vaccinators working for NHS trusts and other employers will also be among the first asked to help deliver the vaccine. The Government has also consulted on temporary changes to legislation to allow a wider group of clinical staff, including physiotherapists and paramedics, to become vaccinators with appropriate training and supervision.
A national public communications campaign will commence shortly, focusing at first on the safety and effectiveness of vaccines in general. This will be supplemented by localised communications across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and targeted engagement with communities who traditionally experience health inequalities.
As with this year’s flu vaccination campaign, a national system will send invitations and reminders to eligible people at the right time. It will provide an online and telephone booking system so that people can choose a time and location to receive their vaccination.