I am writing with an update on our COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, as well as important information for those people who have been newly informed by NHS England this week that they should shield.
With help from an outstanding group of volunteers up at Fareham Community Hospital, we have given more than 90% of all people in the JCVI priority groups 1-4 their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, as well as 75% of people in priority group 5 (those aged between 65 and 70).
Remember that if you receive a letter from NHS England inviting you to book an appointment at a Mass Vaccination Centre, you can either take them up on that offer (there are sites in both Portsmouth and Southampton) or you can wait until you are invited by us. All our vaccinations take place at Fareham Community Hospital, and as soon as we receive vaccine supplies we put on more appointments and send out more invitations.
We have now been given the go ahead to move into priority group 6 (people aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions). This group contains a large number of people and the order in which people are invited needs to be prioritised. Whilst the most important factor is increasing age, NHS England has developed a clinical risk assessment tool which is designed to identify people who are at higher risk of complications should they catch COVID-19. As a result of that, a further two million people across the country have been identified and asked to shield – if that is you, you will be receiving a letter or an email over the next few days.
Please be aware that if you are newly identified as being at higher risk, we will prioritise you for your COVID-19 vaccination. You do not need to take any action (such as calling the practice). NHS England is letting us know who you are, although you will hear a few days before we do, and as soon as we have your names we will be sending you an invite for our next vaccination clinic.
Please don’t phone the practice about your vaccine if you can avoid it – by keeping the phone lines free you will be helping us to continue to provide our usual primary care service for people who need our help on the day.
Many thanks for your continued support.
Dr Tom Bertram
Clinical Director, Sovereign Health Network
Highlands Practice, Jubilee and Whiteley Surgeries