The backdrop for this week’s meeting with the Sussex NHS Commissioning Group was that first doses of a Covid vaccine have been given to around 60% of all adults and just over 10% of adults have had both vaccinations – and the downward trend in Covid cases and deaths continues.
Other developments, reported widely in the national news, included the latest on test and trace, the availability of new vaccines such as Moderna, and the balance in favour of benefits versus risk of being vaccinated. The debate about so called “vaccine passports” and all travel arrangements will continue at national level.
The Sussex NHS priority remains to complete the balance of first vaccinations in categories 1 to 9 (age 50 plus and those at particular risk) and the underlying government message is “keep getting the jab” – any risks will be outweighed by the benefits.
As explained last week, it remains important to keep on with the mitigations (Hands, Face and Space) as we move out of lockdown. To reduce the risk of transmission of the virus, everyone is advised to avoid meeting others, not in their bubbles or family groups, in enclosed spaces as ventilation and fresh air reduces risks.
For patients in Eastern Rother, appointments are now being made in the 11th week after the first vaccination, for a second vaccination in the 12th week and patients are being contacted by their GP surgery.
As people are being invited for their second vaccination, there are some changes affecting vaccination centres for those in Rye and District. They result from the restrictions of space at the Etchingham Centre, now that the school has returned. .
For second doses of vaccine,
– If the first vaccination was Pfizer, then the second will be at the King’s Church vaccination centre in Hastings. (Opposite the Conquest Hospital on the Ridge)
– If the first vaccination was AstraZenaca, then the second will be at the Etchingham vaccination centre.
This change allows the Etchingham team, in their now restricted space, to focus on first doses, alongside second doses for those who have already had the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Opposite the Conquest Hospital
The Hastings King’s Centre service will focus on second doses of Pfizer and the centre is easy to find, within walking distance opposite the Conquest Hospital and with its own car parks, and has the large amount of space required for the handling of Pfizer, and for patients to be observed for a time after they have been vaccinated.
For those who have received their first vaccination at any other centre or pharmacy, such as New Romney or Ore, they will already have been booked for a second appointment (usually through the national letter system) at a location which will remain unchanged.
The NHS has advised that everyone will have the same type of vaccine for both first and second vaccination and that supplies remain “guaranteed”.
At any meeting with the CCG we always ask about vaccination options closer to home in Rye and District, and the CCG advises that “some surgeries” might offer a limited service to those patients “with particular medical difficulties” and individuals will be contacted separately. .
During the period of national vaccine supply constraints in April, it was reported last week that the NHS letter options with wider choices for vaccination location would be suspended. We now learn that this NHS letter option might restart later in April. Meanwhile all calls for vaccination will progress through GP surgeries. There is no date yet for the start of category 10 patients (the under 50s).
In addition to the options which have been advised widely, including use of the Rye Community Transport, for those with no means to get to a vaccination appointment, they have a further option to book a free return journey to any notified vaccination, through a Sussex wide travel coordinator on 07871 603 235. The booking service is available between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 Monday to Friday.