This week some 5,000 jabs have been delivered in the Rye centre since the end of May. Second doses of Pfizer for those who had their first over eight weeks ago will now be available. The centre will also welcome walk-ins and a new NHS initiative “bring a friend”. For the latter, if you want to be accompanied, then bring someone who needs a jab and we will vaccinate both. The majority of patients are still booking via the national booking site, selecting the Rye option. It is worth reminding that to choose Rye on the national booking site can demand a little patience; decline other locations on offer but persevere for Rye.
We see many who are anxious or needle phobic. As everyone is encouraged to have the vaccine, those with concerns should mention them on arrival so that we can provide the most caring environment for the experience. The important thing is to have the two jabs.
Clarity Pharmacy, which is providing the clinical support for the Rye centre is keen to have feedback on its services and invite those patients who have received Pfizer in Rye to give a very short review via the QR Code link available in the centre.
National level issues
On announcing likely future changes to Covid-19 restrictions, the prime minister has said that “if Britain did not seize freedom now then a return to normality could be a long way off”. He went on to summarise the new future approach of “learn to live with this virus” and “exercise personal judgement”. This has sparked a lot of debate about our basic assumptions about Covid-19 and whether politics or science is the key driver for decisions. There is an expectation that the government will confirm on 12 July that many of the Covid-19 restrictions in England will be lifted from 19 July. Relaxations are likely to include the rules for wearing of face coverings; social distancing and test and trace booking into locations such as pubs and restaurants.
This forecast is against the backdrop of rising infection rates. The new health secretary, has acknowledged that current projections indicate that as a result of the forecast relaxations, Covid-19 infections could surge to a record 100,000 per day in a few weeks. Not only does this risk the generation of new variants but it is of particular concern to those whose immune systems are impaired or have other clinical vulnerabilities. For them, the efficacy of vaccines is much reduced. They argue that freedom to choose to wear or not face coverings can be at the expense of those who through no fault of their own are more at risk.
Despite the forecast of a return to the new normality, the government suggests that caution will still be necessary. For example, the advice about face coverings is likely to be that they should be considered indoors and in close proximity to other people, particularly for the vulnerable, or as guided by a “competent authority” or where someone else nearby is “uncomfortable”. Some doctors, regional mayors, trade unions and health charities are among those who have expressed fears over aspects of the proposed relaxed measures. In the Rye vaccination centre we intend to retain the need for face coverings because of the relatively high risk of some coming for jabs who are infected.
There are plenty of other Covid related matters in the news:
– fully vaccinated people in England will probably not have to self-isolate if a close contact tests positive for Covid from 16 August;
– double-jabbed individuals who have been in contact with positive cases will not need to isolate from August 16;
– the guidance for the isolation of school student “bubbles”, where there are positive tests, are likely to change;
– rules for overseas travel and quarantine requirements are likely to change, but those making travel plans should study the rules carefully and make sure that they have contingency arrangements should there be change while away.
Update by the NHS Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
On Monday we joined the CCG for the fortnightly update. In Sussex there are still large numbers of the older age groups yet to be vaccinated and there is outreach to encourage those in larger communities such as Hastings. There was discussion about the optimum time between jabs, as the guidance from the manufacturer remains at odds with that of the NHS. In Rye, we are working on NHS guidance which is eight weeks unless there are very good clinical reasons for doing otherwise. We learnt that NHS data takes two weeks to appear in the NHS app because the date added reflects the two week period that it takes for the vaccine to take effect. People need to take account of this when planning travel. Other ongoing work includes whether children (under 18) should be vaccinated. It is known that children have a lower rate of “poorer outcomes” as a result of infection. Therefore the benefit versus risks are lower for children.
Autumn booster jabs
The NHS has started to plan a Covid-19 vaccine booster (3rd jabs) programme in the UK ahead of this winter. This comes as a bigger than normal winter flu season is expected, meaning that extra protection will be required particularly for the vulnerable. It is expected that some 30 million of the most vulnerable might receive a third Covid-19 dose. This rollout will test NHS logistics to the full as it will run alongside winter flu jabs.
Volunteers still needed
To enable the Rye vaccination centre to operate efficiently, we rely on volunteers. Those who have joined us – as marshals and registration – tend to enjoy the experience. Vaccinators should have some clinical experience and will be paid. Training and briefing is given for everyone who commits. Names please to firstname.lastname@example.org . There is no fixed commitment. Volunteers can give as much or as little as they can manage. Once contacted, there are WhatsApp groups to link volunteers and vaccinators to the facility.
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .