We’re listening to the ‘not yet vaccinated’ – if in doubt talk to us
It’s easier than ever to get a covid vaccination, with drop in clinics (no appointment needed) available across Norfolk and Waveney. Whilst the local NHS continues to perform strongly on the number of vaccinations delivered, there are a small percentage of people yet to have a vaccine, and for a wide variety of reasons.
With covid infection rates rising quickly, both locally and across the country, it is even more important that people get a vaccine to protect themselves and others – and we are here to help if you are struggling to attend a vaccination site.
The series of lockdowns have been hard on many people and as restrictions are now lifting and things begin to return to normal some people are understandably feeling overwhelmed at being around lots of people again on the street, in shops, cafes and bars. Many people have got used to staying at home and not mixing in large numbers – so much so it has become their new routine and they struggle with the idea of going out and about.
Agoraphobia and anxiety are increasingly common according to the recent feedback we have had from local patients and carers. Emma (36) who lives near Great Yarmouth is just one of the people who contacted NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG recently to seek advice and help.
Says Emma: “I've not really been out of my village for months and not been around many people either which doesn't help. The thought of being in crowded places is frightening to me sometimes. I know it sounds silly to some people, but the anxiety makes me feel so awful. It’s just the thought of doing things and the anticipation of it. I get so worked up I make myself ill with stress and worry. It's really horrible and I hate not being able to get on top of it.”
Emma found the confidence to contact us to ask a few questions and seek support. Here’s what happened next:
“I only went and did it! I overcame my fears and with support from the local NHS I was able to get my vaccine. The team at the drop in clinic were amazing. They looked after me and made sure I had my vaccination in a quiet area away from others. They talked through my concerns and made me feel comfortable and able to cope with the situation.
“I had a bit of a headache afterwards but that's probably because I worked myself up. I feel absolutely fine now – no side effects other than a sore arm for a bit - and am so proud of myself for getting it done! It may sound daft to some people, but this was a massive thing for me.”
Adds Emma: “If you suffer from anxiety, agoraphobia or hate the thought of needles but still want a vaccine then PLEASE let someone know. Getting the vaccine is the best thing you can do and there are kind and supportive people who want to help you. Whatever you need to get a vaccine they can make it work for you.
“I’m so proud of myself. And the vaccination team were just amazing. Thank you Sam and Rachel, see you in eight weeks for my second dose - when I know you will look after me brilliantly again!”
In Emma’s case we arranged a phone call with the vaccination team at her closest site and they talked through her concerns and feelings about leaving the house and getting to the vaccination centre. They agreed a time for her arrive at the drop in when someone could meet her at the door and walk in with her. A nurse supported her throughout her visit and whilst being vaccinated and made sure that she was okay afterwards before sending her home to rest.
Rachel Brice, Clinic Manager at James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’ Vaccine Hub: “Now the vast majority of people in Norfolk and Waveney have had at least one dose of the vaccine, our drop in centres tend to be less busy during the week and we have much more time to chat to people who may be anxious so we can understand their specific fears and needs.
“We take it really slow with people and focus on having a conversation with them about how we can make them feel most comfortable, safe and relaxed. In most cases we can meet people’s needs and be flexible about how and where we can provide a vaccination; this might be in a quiet space away from others or even outside in the car park at some vaccination centres.
Adds Rachel :“If after talking it through the person decides not to have a vaccine, then that’s fine. There’s no pressure from us – we just provide factual information and reassurance; the decision is completely theirs. We have had quite a few people talk about worrying things they have read online about the vaccines, and we are able to provide them with a clinical view about the risks and benefits – the majority go on to get vaccinated once they understand that it really is the best way to get protected from the serious illness or ongoing health problems related to having covid.
“If you would like to have a conversation with someone before deciding whether to have a vaccine please do come along to a drop in clinic and ask to speak to a member of the clinical team. If you can’t face coming to a vaccination site and want to talk to someone about how we might be able to make a vaccination appointment work for you please contact us by email and we will be in touch to see how we can help.”
According to data published today by NHS England and NHS Improvement 91% of people aged over 18 in Norfolk and Waveney have received their first dose, putting us sixth out of the 42 health and care systems in England. Some 87% of adults in England have received their first dose.
Some 74% of people aged over 16 in Norfolk and Waveney have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 64% of adults in England. This puts us fourth out of the 42 health and care systems for second doses.
More than a million doses of vaccine (1,378,356) have been given in Norfolk and Waveney. In the week to 18 July, 23,236 doses were given of which 5,263 were first doses and 17,973 were second doses.
Health leaders in Norfolk and Waveney are urging people to wait until eight weeks after their first vaccination before attending for their second.
Says Cath Byford, Chief Nurse, NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group: “Our NHS and pharmacy vaccination centres are being inundated with requests for early second vaccination before eight weeks. We are working to national NHS guidance and are unable to provide second doses before eight weeks – the vaccines provide the maximum possible protection with an interval of between eight and 12 weeks.
“We know this is frustrating as people want to travel, go on holiday or go out to nightclubs and may need two doses to do so, but please be patient and wait the full eight weeks. The more people who get vaccinated at the right time, the better protected we all are and more able to enjoy additional freedoms this summer. Our staff must work to the national guidance, so please be understanding if you are turned away after requesting an early second dose.”