Covid Vaccination Programme Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How will the vaccination programme work?
Sovereign Health Network was selected as one of the first sites to receive a COVID-19 vaccine delivery and begin to offer the vaccination programme to some of our patients. The national supply chain is working as fast as it can and Sovereign have already given more than 2000 vaccines to our patients, but we currently only have one future delivery confirmed. It is for this reason that we are unable to plan ahead at this stage and invite more of our patients for their vaccination. As soon as more vaccine deliveries are confirmed, more patients will be invited.
We have been provided with a prioritisation schedule for patients to receive the vaccine, and you will be invited strictly in that order. At the moment, we plan to run our vaccination clinics inside Fareham Community Hospital. We’ve made good progress in vaccinating our Care Homes (Cohort 1) and over 80’s (Cohort 2), and we have started inviting some 75-79 year olds (Cohort 3). Please don’t worry at this stage if you haven’t had your vaccine; we will be phoning and writing to patients to in due course.
I know that many of you will be interested in the progress of the vaccination programme locally, and when you are likely to receive your jab. We plan to publish a visual guide to where we are with the programme on our Facebook page. We will keep it up to date so that you know how things are going.
As many of you will know, we wrote to our over 80s letting them know when their appointment was. We had very short notice of our first delivery and didn’t have time to offer people a choice of appointments. Since then, a new booking system has become available. This system allows us to invite patients to book their own appointment by sending them a text message. Once you click on the link in the text message, you will see all the available appointments that are available to you. I would strongly encourage you to take the first available appointment, but if you really are unable to make any of the appointments on offer, please be reassured that we will offer more appointments as soon as we have a vaccine delivery confirmed. Please be mindful that the Pfizer vaccine must be used within three days of arriving with us, so we can only put on clinics when we are certain of delivery.
The new booking system lets us know when a patient doesn’t have a valid mobile phone number or if they haven’t responded to their text message. In both cases, we will be phoning those patients to book their appointments for them. Please do not phone the surgery to enquire about a vaccine appointment – we have a separate team booking vaccine appointments and our reception team cannot book one for you. We are all working extremely hard to deliver the vaccines as well as continuing to offer same day (or next day) GP services – if you can keep the phone lines free, this will help those patients who are phoning about new or ongoing (non-COVID vaccine related) medical matters.
Our Patient Participation Group has collated a range of questions about the COVID Vaccination Programme and I have answered them to the best of my knowledge below. Please note that things are continually changing, and that the information below is accurate at the time of writing.
What circumstances are there which would mean that a patient could not have the covid vaccination?
- You should not have the Covid vaccine within 7 days of any other vaccination.
- You should not have the Covid vaccine if you areon a Covid related clinical trial (although you can contact the trial investigators for their advice).
- There is no data to suggest the Covid vaccine is harmful in pregnancy, however, it should not be given routinely during pregnancy. It can be given following a discussion between the individual and a clinician on a risk/benefit basis.
- The vaccine is not routinely recommended in children younger than 16.
- You should not have the Covid vaccine if you have symptoms which might represent a Covid infection, or within four weeks of testing positive for Covid.
- You should delay the Covid vaccine if you are on Warfarin AND your last INR was greater than 4.
- See below for advice on allergies and the vaccine
What allergies might mean that a patient cannot have the covid vaccine?
- Patients with a history of an anaphylactic (immediate, severe) reaction to foods, identified drugs or vaccines, or insect stings CAN receive ANY Covid vaccination, as long as they are not known to be allergic to any component of the vaccine.
- Patients with a history of an anaphylactic reaction to multiple classes of drugs or an unexplained anaphylaxis should not be vaccinated with the Pfizer Biontech vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine can be used as an alternative.
Does thee need to be a time delay between receiving the flu jab and the covid vaccination?
- Yes, you should not have the Covid vaccine within 7 days of any other vaccination.
If a patient has previously tested positive for covid, do they need the covid vaccination?
- Yes, patients who have previously tested positive for Covid can and should have a Covid vaccination, although they must wait 4 weeks from their positive test result to do so.
How will housebound vulnerable patients be vaccinated?
- This group of patients will be visited individually to be vaccinated by members of our clinical team.
- They will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as the Pfizer Biontech vaccine is too fragile to transport.
Will the covid vaccine be annual?
- We don’t yet know.
What evidence of vaccination will a patient receive?
- On the day, a patient will receive a card confirming which vaccine they received and its batch number.
- Full details of the vaccine are held in a national system called Pinnacle, and filter into the patient’s medical record on the same day.
- I am currently unaware of any official plans for a ‘certificate of vaccination’.
If a patient receives a date they cannot attend due to work commitments, what will be the process for changing the appointment?
- You will receive an invitation to book your own appointment from the available clinics. I would strongly encourage you to attend at your first opportunity; nevertheless, if you are unable to attend any of the available appointments there will be new clinics put on as vaccine becomes available.
If a patient receives their covid vaccination in their workplace, how will the GP surgery be informed?
- Wherever a patient is vaccinated, the details of the vaccination will be entered on Pinnacle (see above) and will then filter back to the patient’s medical record at the practice. This may take a few days, so don’t worry if you are invited by the practice in the meantime.
If a patient has had the vaccine, and then is in contact with someone who hasn’t, can they still pass covid to the unvaccinated?
- A patient who has had the Covid vaccination cannot pass Covid to anyone else, unless that vaccinated patient has caught Covid themselves.
- You must continue to follow the advice ‘Hands, Face, Space’ after you have had the vaccine – this is very important. The immunity that the first dose will give you will only develop after approximately 14 days, and although it is much less likely it is still possible to get Covid after being vaccinated.
Can the vaccinated still catch the virus by mixing with a patient who is positive for covid?
- Yes, although it is less likely.
- You must continue to follow the advice ‘Hands, Face, Space’ to reduce the risk that this happens.
Will patients receive their second vaccination from the same manufacturer?
Can you please update your surgery websites and Sovereign Facebook page when there are any updates as many patients are frightened of being scammed?
- We are aware how desperate people are for reliable information at present and we will do our utmost to keep everything up to date.
- Please do bear with us, though, as our clinical and non-clinical staff are really stretched at present delivering our usual GP service, ‘flu vaccines and the Covid vaccination programme.
Can a patient have the covid vaccination when they are still waiting for a ‘flu jab?
- Yes, but there must be a 7 day gap between the two vaccinations.
Is there any seating at Fareham Community Hospital or should the less mobile bring a wheelchair or seat with them?
- There are a small number of wheelchairs available at Fareham Community Hospital, but if you depend on one please do bring your own.
Can patients be guaranteed to receive their second vaccination within the government’s recommended guidelines?
- It is not within my power to ‘guarantee’ that patients will receive their second vaccination within the government’s recommended guidelines, however, I have not heard anything to suggest that the timeframe will not be adhered to.
Dr Tom Bertram
Clinical Director, Sovereign Health Network (Jubilee, Highlands and Whiteley Practices)