We have now begun our vaccination programme for our patients at the Michael Herbert Hall in Wilton.
The first vaccinations for people aged 80 and above have gone well. We had a week’s notice of the delivery and Hindon Surgery was allocated two clinics with 40 appointments each on a Thursday and Saturday morning (0900 – 1115 every three minutes). As more vaccine becomes available, we will be inviting lower age groups and we will contact you when it is getting close to your turn.
Vaccinations will take place at The Michael Herbert Hall on South Street, Wilton, SP2 0JS. There is good parking next to the hall in a public car park and there are gentle ramps up to the front door.
Some clinics may be during very cold and icy weather. Please come prepared and take care. The most problems at pilot sites were people falling over rushing to get their vaccination.
There are no toilet facilities at the Hall. A short sleeve blouse or shirt under your coat will make the clinic run smoothly.
Pilot sites report the process worked best when people turned up at the time of their appointment (and not early, it is impossible to vaccinate earlier than the time you will be given and this caused significant traffic problems). If you do arrive early please stay in your car until a minute or two before your appointment time.
Having someone else to drive you to and from the clinic also works well, especially for older people with reduced mobility. Your driver will need to wait in the car but can help you to the door of the Michael Herbert Hall if you need assistance.
The whole appointment should take about half an hour:
- Please put on a face covering before entering the hall and maintain social distancing if needing to queue.
- In the front lobby there will be one or two reception desks and a desk with information leaflets should you want one (please take one and it is something to read when waiting before or after your vaccination.
- You will be called forward to book in and asked your name, have your temperature taken and you may be given a card with a record of the vaccination. Please keep this. Apply hand sanitiser; there are bottles on the reception desks and move forward towards the door of the main hall.
- You may be asked to sit down to wait to be called forward for your vaccination. This is a good time to take off coats etc and have the arm you want to be vaccinated ready.
- Please stay where you have been asked to sit and not wander around the hall – this is to maintain infection control measures.
- You will be called forward to sit at the vaccination station where the vaccinator will ask you a number of questions that include:
- Confirming that you are not unwell with an infectious illness
- Confirming you have been given information about the vaccine
- Asking if you have any questions about the vaccine
- Asking your consent to vaccinate
- Checking on serious allergic reactions (ones needing emergency medical help or an adrenaline injection – we shouldn’t have invited you if this was on your records but this is a final check)
- Checking if you are on blood thinning medication (warfarin, apixaban, edoxaban, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, aspirin or clopidogrel) These do not prevent you being vaccinated but you may have a small bruise afterwards
- Checking if you have had any other vaccination in the previous seven days (e.g. ‘flu, shingles, Pneumovac)
- If all is OK and we hope your answers can be brief as anything lengthier should have been answered in this briefing or by the surgery before you go for your vaccination. If you feel you need to discuss things at greater length please do so before the clinic or postpone your jab.
- Once vaccinated you will be shown to another chair in an observation area in the hall where you will have to wait for 15 minutes (please bring something to keep yourself occupied). Again please don’t wander around.
- You will be given a slip of paper with the time of the vaccination and 15 minutes later. There is a clock in the hall and when you get to the second time you can leave by the door at the far right of the hall. There may be hand sanitiser to use there or use some when you get back to your car and when home follow your usual routine of hand washing.
If you are unwell on the day of the appointment (fever, symptoms of an infection, especially a new cough, sore throat or loss of smell or taste please do not come to the vaccination location but contact NHS111 in case you need a test for Covid-19 infection and Hindon surgery to put you on the list to invite for vaccination for another date).
Please read the information below carefully, so that you are able to verbally consent to the vaccination on the day. More information is available on the government website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/.
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine?
You can only get the vaccine from the NHS and at the time of writing over a million people have been vaccinated starting with those most at risk:
- Some people aged 80 and over who already have a hospital appointment in the next few weeks
- People who live or work in care homes
- Some health care workers at high risk
In Wiltshire some areas have been pilot sites to vaccinate people aged 80 and over and some health and social care workers. These clinics have gone well and with more vaccine available the programme is being rolled out to more sites including ours in Wilton. You may know people who were vaccinated some weeks ago and others not yet started. It depends on the vaccine availability and approval of their vaccination sites and recruitment of staff and this varies across the country.
The first vaccinations were be offered to people aged 80 and over who can travel to Wilton and who do not live in a care home and those front-line health staff at most risk. Care home residents and the housebound will be vaccinated at home as soon as a suitable vaccination is available and we will contact these patients and the care homes as soon as we have more information. We have vaccinated or booked vaccination appointments for most of these patients and are now able to offer appointments to the next tier of patients, you.
Because of the limited quantities of vaccinations available at the start of the programme we will be inviting those at most risk in each of the age cohorts. Risk increases with age and some long term conditions. If you are fit and well you will be invited a little later than someone older in your age tier or who is less fit but the delay will only be a week or two. We will also invite households where one member could have been invited sooner but preferred to wait to be vaccinated at the same appointment as another member of the household.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It is given as 2 doses, at least 21 days apart. In late December the national guidance changed to having the second dose up to twelve weeks after the first so that as many people as possible have a first dose. This will give a good level of protection but it is still important to come for your second dose when invited as this will further boost your immunity and make it last longer.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK were developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca. They have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the first to be delivered locally and will be used in the PCN clinic in Wilton. It is very fragile and is not suitable in situations needing several journeys as well as having difficult storage requirements
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will be available locally from mid-January but only for residents of care homes and their staff. As more becomes available it will be prioritised to the housebound before being used in the clinics.
So far, over a million people in England have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
After having one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine most people will be protected against coronavirus. It takes a few weeks after getting the first dose for it to work. The second dose improves the effectiveness and needs to longer lasting immunity. The second dose must be with the same vaccine as the first. There is a small chance you might still get coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to:
- Continue to follow social distancing guidance
- If you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people
- You should continue to follow national guidance on keeping safe and any restrictions on movement.
- You will not be given a letter or certificate that says you don’t have to follow the rules that continue to apply to all of us but you will be given a card with the date and details of the vaccine given.
COVID-19 vaccine side effects
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
- A sore arm where the needle went in
- Feeling tired
- A headache
- Feeling achy
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to. If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
Tell staff before you are vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to medicines, vaccines, food, or to a bee or wasp sting. This may mean you carry an adrenaline pen. This is a change in advice made in late December 2020 and at present no one with any serious allergic reaction should have a Covid-19 vaccination. However this advice is under constant review and it may be different for each vaccine. We are not inviting any patients with a record of a serious allergic reaction for vaccination and if invited and you have had an allergic reaction that we may not know about please let us know so we can update your notes and please don’t have the vaccination.
If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. This is why you will need to wait at the vaccination clinic for 15 minutes after your vaccination. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
This is a hugely positive step forwards after such a difficult year for everyone and we would ask you to seriously consider having a vaccination.
Our experience from the first invitations was that we had very little time to book people into the clinics and to avoid delay we rang everyone who needed to be vaccinated. This worked very well as everyone accepted the invitation, had read the information and were able to accept the date and time offered.
Some patients have some form of call-blocking in place and because many of the surgery ‘phone lines do not allow ‘call-back’ we found some patients did not answer our calls which caused some problems. If you get an unexpected call in the next couple of weeks please answer it as it may be the surgery trying to book the appointment.
At pilot sites there were reports of long discussions about the vaccine and the clinics. With only two lines for the surgery (01747 820222) and limits on the number of staff who can take calls due to social distancing rules, we will not have time for this which is why you are being sent this detailed information. Our experience has been that everyone booked very efficiently and if they had queries sent an email to us on email@example.com.
If you do not want to be vaccinated please just let us know (an email is fine). Please remember the vaccination is both to protect you but also protect the NHS by reducing your chance of catching Covid-19 and being admitted to hospital. Today (07 January 2021) around 80 of the 400+ beds at Salisbury Hospital are occupied by patients with Covid-19. Not only are they seriously unwell but these beds are unavailable for other patients with all the other usual planned and emergency needs to be in hospital. Elsewhere hospitals have had to cancel all planned care and are struggling to do emergency operations and tests for patients with cancer. Having this vaccination helps lots of other people as well as protecting you.
If you want to be vaccinated but cannot leave your house please let us know and we can add your name to our list of patents to vaccinate at home (this may be later than your vaccination in Wilton).
If you feel you should have been invited or know someone who feels they should have been invited but haven’t been – please contact the surgery or ask them to contact the surgery.
Dr Patrick Craig-McFeely and Dr Sally Hayes
Partners, Hindon Surgery