During this week in which we moved to the next stage of the route out of lockdown, there have been some clear messages from government about the need for people to maintain the basic protective measures mitigations (Hands-Face-Space) and continue to modify their behaviour to ensure safety from the virus, and most importantly, if you are going to meet others, then please remember that it is better outside in the fresh air rather than in an enclosed space, as the virus is known to spread more easily in the latter.
The reason for this is the risk of a “third wave” of increasing infections already seen in mainland Europe and the government has reminded us that we all need to continue to play our part and follow the rules through this next phase, so that further lifting of restrictions can go ahead at the earliest dates as set out in the plan.
News from the Sussex NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
On Monday there was another meeting with the Sussex NHS CCG, focussed on vaccines, and in particular there was discussion about the current priority to complete groups 1 to 9 (down to age 50), carers, care workers and the vulnerable, and we discussed vaccine supply and the possibility of a third jab in the autumn.
We always ask about any changes that may be planned for Eastern Rother and invariably we are told that the future vaccination programme will have to be imaginative and responsive. In short there were hints that there might be changes to meet requirements in the future, but no details. We asked again about mobile mass facilities for Eastern Rother to reduce the travel necessary to the vaccine centres but, as yet, shortage of resources do not allow that.
First vaccinations: NHS Sussex has completed 86% of the highest priority cohorts, with those aged 50 to 54 now being called in. NHS Sussex is working as a priority to complete the balance of all the highest priority cohorts. Click here for for more information.
For cohort 10 (those aged below 50) there is no date as yet and there is an issue which has been in national reports that the supply of vaccine will be constrained in April, and weekly supplies in Sussex are expected to drop to around 20% of that seen in the early part of the programme. This is likely to be a temporary reduction during April only with supply, then returning to present rates.
Second vaccinations are being planned for 12 weeks after the first and the NHS has said that vaccine for second vaccinations “is guaranteed” and will be the same type as the first dose. For those without second appointments, surgeries should call patients around week 11 after the date of the first dose.
During the period of vaccine shortage in April, and for those without first and second appointments yet, there will be no national calling letter option as we have seen to date. That system will be suspended, but will restart once vaccine supplies are restored. This will mean reduced options for access to vaccine in April.
A third vaccination?
There have been national reports of a third vaccination in the autumn, primarily, but not entirely, to counter new variants of the virus. This is being considered centrally and NHS Sussex advise that it is probable, but not yet planned.
Communicating with the NHS
As a reminder, any individual difficulties can be resolved either direct to GP surgeries or through Sussex Healthwatch.
Healthwatch has also said that the NHS is working hard “to reopen for normal business” and elective and routine treatments are being offered in all hospitals with outpatient clinics, restarting either face to face or virtually. GP surgeries should be available for routine appointments and tests.
Where there are particular difficulties either with vaccinations or routine treatment Healthwatch can help, either by telephone on 0333 101 4007 or by email via email@example.com.
Image Credits: UK Government .