Covid-19 vaccinations have been prioritised nationally by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The first groups being vaccinated are care home residents and their carers; people aged over 80; and health and social care workers.
You can see the latest, full prioritisation approach by the government. Individuals are being contacted directly by phone or letter to invite them to be vaccinated in order of priority.
In north west London, vaccines for the general public are being offered in the community, in care homes or in GP practices or dedicated community hubs. We will be helping to run a number of dedicated community hubs from February, as the vaccination programme expands further.
The national prioritisation approach means that vaccinations are being offered in a fair and consistent way, to protect the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. This also helps to protect the NHS, not just by reducing staff absence but also by reducing infections amongst people who are most likely to need hospital care if they become infected with Covid-19.
Please do not call your GP or hospital to book a vaccine – the NHS will contact you when it is your turn.
We are currently vaccinating only a very few patients in our hospitals. There are a number of reasons why this is the case:
- It’s really important to keep a careful track of patients who have had a first dose of vaccine – so that we can make sure they get their second dose at the right time, and with the same type of vaccine. As most of our patients are in hospital for a relatively short amount of time, this is much better done as part of the public vaccination programme in the community.
- To respond to a high number of patients with Covid-19, we are currently focusing almost entirely on urgent and emergency care, with all but time-critical planned care postponed. Therefore, many of our inpatients are not be well enough to be vaccinated. As soon as they are medically fit to be discharged from hospital, patients will go home or to a community-based facility, such as a care home, where they will be offered the vaccine if they are in a priority group.
- We currently have supplies of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which has very specific storage requirements, creating logistical challenges for on-site distribution. Currently, we are able to provide the vaccine primarily from one building at St Mary’s Hospital.
We are developing plans to roll out vaccines to some priority and vulnerable patients who have to attend hospital frequently, such as dialysis patients, or who are likely to be in hospital for several weeks. We are already able to offer the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to regular patients in one of our renal dialysis units and we are working to expand to other units as quickly as possible.
If you are a patient regularly attending one of our hospitals or clinics, and you receive an invitation to be vaccinated in the community, please take up that offer. You should not wait to find out if and when we are able to offer you a vaccine. However, if we are able to offer you a vaccine before you are offered a vaccine in the community, please take up our offer and we will also make sure you get your second dose when it is needed.
We are running the vaccination programme for our staff, as well as for some other health and care workers in north west London. The programme began at the end of December and we expect to have provided all our frontline staff with their first vaccine dose before the end of January.
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