The general page about Coronavirus, with links to a range of information and resources, can be found here.
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is now underway and is being rolled out in GP-led vaccination centres, and a regional site in Stevenage.
Vaccinations are underway across West Hertfordshire, with GP-led vaccination centes in Watford and Three Rivers, St Albans, Dacorum, Hertsmere, and Harpenden. The new regional site at Stevenage has also opened, and some people will receive an invitation to have their vaccine there. The information below answers some key questions about getting the vaccine.
Q. When will I be getting the vaccine?
A. To protect those who are the most as risk first, the vaccine is initially being offered to patients aged 80 and over over as well as people living and working in care homes and health and social care workers. More information about how the vaccine will be rolled out to groups of people in order of priority, starting with those who most need protecting from the virus, is on the Why you have to wait for your Covid-19 vaccine webpage or see a copy of the Why do I have to wait? leaflet.
Q. How do GPs decide which patients should be invited first?
A. GPs are following national guidance about which patients should be vaccinated first. This guidance says that the first two groups of patients to be vaccinated should be residents and staff from care homes and those aged 80 and over. These two groups are being offered the vaccine.
Beyond that it is up to each practice to decide how best to work through their lists of eligible patients to invite people to make an appointment to receive their vaccination. With so many people to vaccinate it’s not practical for practices to spend time going through patient records and trying to rank people in order of priority to invite them for their jab. Everyone aged 80 and over is viewed as potentially vulnerable.
Q. How will I be invited for an appointment?
A. As vaccination centres open, GP practices will work through their list of eligible patients and will contact you to invite you to book your appointment when it is your turn. You will need to book an appointment for both your first and second dose.
Please DO NOT contact your GP practice to try to make an appointment before you hear from them. This will allow practice staff to focus on helping patients needing medical help as well as contacting patients about vaccine appointments when ready to do so.
Q. Where will I be getting the vaccine?
A. We have set up vaccination centres that can operate in a 'Covid safe' way, with space to allow social distancing. These local vaccination centres are run by GPs. General practices are working collaboratively to provide this service – building on their years of experience and knowledge in delivering vaccination programmes.
Q. Can I ask to be referred to another vaccination centre that is already up and running rather than having to wait for my local centre to open?
A. You will need to attend your local vaccination centre that is linked to your GP practice. Because the patient booking system and your patient information is held at this local level it’s not possible for you to go elsewhere. You will need to go to the same site for your second vaccine.
Q. Will housebound and care home patients be able to have the vaccine at home in the same way as for the flu vaccine.
A. We have already started to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations in some care homes.
We’re in the process of making arrangements to offer vaccinations in people's homes for people who are housebound and not well enough to go to a vaccination centre. We expect this to start sometime in January.
Q. I have an appointment for a second dose, but have heard that these will be delayed. What should I do?
A. In Hertfordshire and west Essex, each group of practices will decide whether to either go ahead with booked second vaccinations or reschedule them, based on their local situation. Everyone due to receive the second dose will receive it either as planned or a little later.
Anyone who has already booked an appointment for their second dose of the vaccine should still attend at that time, unless they have been contacted to re-schedule their appointment.
Q. Can I get my vaccine during the new lockdown?
A. Yes: it is OK to leave your home to receive medical care during the lockdown, including receiving the vaccine.
Q: How long will my vaccination take?
A: Our priority is to simply make sure that everyone gets their vaccination as quickly and safely as possible. There are a few checks we need to do when you arrive - you can help to manage this by turning up at your agreed appointment time: please don’t be late, but don’t please don’t turn up too early either. If you arrive by car you may be asked to wait in your vehicle until it is your turn. Only those who are receiving the vaccine should enter the site (unless you require assistance from someone with you).
The vaccination itself is a brief, simple injection, most often into your upper arm like the flu jab. We do some more checks here to make sure everything is registered in your record. After the injection you may be asked to sit and wait for a short amount of time, as is the case with many vaccinations.
Each vaccination centre is organised differently, but all are keeping people socially distanced throughout the process to make sure you and our staff stay safe. In some locations, you might need to temporarily wait outside, so please dress appropriately for winter weather but ensure you can easily expose your upper arm, ready for vaccination once it’s your turn inside.
Staff and volunteers will be available to provide assistance if necessary: please ask if you need any help, or if you have any questions. Please wear a mask unless you are exempt, and follow directions from staff to help protect you and others.
Q. I've had a letter about a new vaccination option - can you explain?
A: If you live in Hertfordshire and are aged 80 or over you may have received a letter from the NHS today inviting you to attend a COVID vaccination centre in Stevenage. You can choose to book an appointment online or by phone using the details in this letter, or if you would prefer an appointment closer to your home you can wait for your GP to invite you to their local hub. Please pass this message on to family or friends aged 80+.
You can also find more information about the vaccine on the NHS.UK website