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Local NHS leaders ask for patience and kindness to staff as the booster programme set to ramp up across Norfolk and Waveney

The Covid booster rollout is set to be extended over the coming weeks in a bid to vaccinate more people in response to the new Omicron variant of the virus.

But the forthcoming changes announced by the Government earlier this week are yet to take effect across England and local people are reminded that the NHS is still only able to provide boosters to those aged 40+ at six months after their second dose.

Once the new clinical guidance is in place nationally, booster vaccines will then be offered in order of descending age groups, with priority given to older adults first as well as those in Covid at-risk groups. The NHS will call people forward according to eligibility as the criteria changes over the coming weeks.

Said Dr Anoop Dhesi, local GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG: “The local health and care system is committed to communicating the changes in eligibility as quickly and clearly as possible, so everyone knows when it is their turn.

“We cannot open up boosters to additional groups until the new clinical guidance is in place. This is for everyone’s safety and protection. We are busy working with our provider partners across the health and care system to increase our capacity in readiness.

“In the meantime, please be patient and please be kind to our staff. We absolutely understand that people want to get a vaccine as soon as possible, but our staff can only vaccinate those who are currently eligible.

“We are hearing of instances of frustration and abuse aimed at the staff working in our vaccination sites and GP practices and this is simply unacceptable. They are just doing their job in line with the national guidance and the phased roll out we have to work to.  They have a right to be treated with respect and feel safe at work.”

The health and care system stands united on this with zero tolerance of any abuse verbal or physical towards its staff. NHS vaccination sites will not hesitate to involve the police where staff feel threatened or unsafe in their workplace.

The latest nationally published data shows that up to Sunday, 28 November:

  • 93% or 783,088 adults in Norfolk and Waveney had received their first dose, compared to 91% of adults nationally.
  • 90% or 756,800 adults had also received their second dose, compared to 86% of adults nationally.
  • 75% or 15,403 people between 16-17 year olds had received one dose, compared to 65% nationally.
  • 52% or 23,097 people between 12-15 year olds had received one dose, compared to 45% nationally.
  • 335,927, booster or third primary dose vaccinations, equating to 71% of the eligible population have been given in Norfolk and Waveney to those who are eligible.

Despite the rurality and spread of the local geography, Norfolk and Waveney has consistently been in the top ten highest performing health and care systems out of 42 since the start of the vaccination programme. 

Appointments are added to the national booking system throughout the day, every day – and local people are advised to keep checking - even if they aren’t offered a location close to home straight away, new slots will open up.

Walk in vaccination sites also continue to be busy – with high demand driven partly by the age demographic of the area. Norfolk and Waveney has more people aged 40+ and currently eligible for a booster vaccination than many other parts of the country with younger populations. Local people are advised to wrap up warm if they are visiting a walk in centre this weekend as they may have to queue.  If you choose to go to a walk in centre but already have a booked appointment please remember to cancel it so the NHS can offer it to someone else.

Local health partners are already looking at ways to increase the number of boosters available by extending opening hours and increasing capacity at existing sites through adding extra dates.

More weekend clinics and increasing the number of community pharmacies providing boosters will be crucial to offering boosters to those patients aged 18+ who will become eligible over the next 10 weeks. As soon as details are confirmed, these will be shared so people know when, where, and how they can access a booster vaccination over the coming weeks.

Added Dr Dhesi: “Everyone who is eligible will receive a vaccine if they want one. We are committed to making sure no one gets left behind but we need your support to make sure people are vaccinated in the right order and those most vulnerable to Covid-19 get protected first.

“Please do not contact your GP practice or attend a walk-in vaccination clinic if you are not included in the six groups currently eligible. As soon as we are able to open up booster appointments for younger age groups or at an interval sooner than six months we will let you know.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

Those currently eligible for booster vaccinations, six months after their second dose are:

  • Those aged 40 and over
  • People who live and work in care homes
  • Frontline health and care workers
  • Clinically extremely vulnerable patients, and those who are their main carers
  • Those aged over 16 who live with someone who is immunosuppressed

First, second and booster vaccination appointments can be booked through the national booking service by visiting nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or telephoning 119. When invited, people can book at one of the vaccination centre, pharmacy or general practice sites that are available through the national booking service. Alternatively, you can visit a walk in centre. To find a walk-in vaccine clinic near you, search the list here: apps.norfolk.gov.uk/WalkIn

You do not have to be registered with a GP or have a NHS number to be vaccinated, but it is not yet possible to book an appointment via the NBS without one. For those not registered with a GP or without an NHS number, a growing number of walk-in and pop-up sites are available. Anyone in the UK can choose to register with a GP.

If you have it, please take with you your NHS number to help the vaccination team book you in quickly. But don’t worry if you don’t have an NHS number or are not registered with a GP / local doctor, you can still get vaccinated.

You do NOT need to show identification (ID) to receive a COVID-19 vaccination and you do not need to give your full name or address. It does not matter whether you are a UK citizen or what your immigration status is, how long you have been here or how long you expect to stay.

Before your vaccination: Don't forget to keep hydrated (bring some bottled water with you) and have something to eat before you come.

For more information about the vaccination programme and for information about vaccines for children and young people visit: www.norfolkandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk/vaccinations/covid-19-vaccines

Remember, the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS.

The NHS will never ask for:

  • Your bank account or card details
  • Your pin or banking password
  • Copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips

Text messages will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service and show as being sent from NHSvaccine. You can trust your text message is genuine if it comes from ‘NHSvaccine’, includes a link to the NHS.uk website and gives you the option of phoning 119.

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