We are making good progress as we continue to deliver the biggest vaccination programme in the NHS history. Over 77,000 Croydon residents have now received their first dose and across South West London we have vaccinated over 335,000 people. Vaccination data for South West London boroughs, parliamentary constituencies and local authority wards has now been published nationally for the first time, you can see this break down here on the NHS England website.
With important progress already made – including everyone aged 63 years old and over being offered a jab – the NHS is now seeking to drive uptake among the next priority groups. This (last) week the national booking service started to invite people aged 60 and over encouraging them to book at a large vaccination centre or pharmacy site. GPs have also made good progress in vaccinating priority group 6, those who are considered ‘clinically vulnerable’. This group includes those identified by the new national Covid risk assessment and adult carers. Following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) people who are on a GP register for learning disabilities- as well as adults with other related conditions, including cerebral palsy will now be prioritised for a vaccination.
We are also working to make sure we reach under-served communities including the homeless, asylum seeker, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. This task is too big to achieve on our own, so we are grateful to you and our partners across South West London in helping us to co-ordinate an approach to reach these groups. By using our collective knowledge and expertise we can ensure that the vaccination programme is informed on how best to reach these groups so they can be immunised as quickly as possible.
As trusted voices, voluntary sector organisations in our local boroughs can reach out and speak to specific groups who need to be prioritised in receiving the vaccine. We are exploring how we can further fund voluntary sector organisations in Croydon to help boost our existing engagement plans to reach and inform communities with low uptake. We are most keen to reach those communities disproportionately affected by covid – and we will continue to share with you improving data about how uptake differs for certain ethnicities and areas of deprivation across the borough to help inform our joint work. It is important that people in at-risk communities get the information they need from trustworthy sources to make decisions about their health that are right for them.
Questions (and answers) of the week
Can people pick which vaccine they want?
Any vaccines that the NHS provides, will have been approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA’s) and past rigorous safety and efficacy tests, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection.
Can I take the Covid-19 vaccine whilst fasting for Ramadan?
The British Islamic Medical Association have issued specific advice urging Muslims observing Ramadan not to delay getting the vaccine, which says that taking the Covid-19 vaccines currently licensed in the UK does not invalidate a fast. They recommend that individuals should not delay their Covid vaccinations on account of Ramadan. The approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine does contain a very small amount of ethanol, but the British Islamic Medical Association recommends that eligible individuals in Muslim communities should still receive it. The British Islamic Medical Association has also produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community on the contents of both vaccines.
If I have already had Covid-19 and recovered, do I still need to get vaccinated?
The NHS recommends that people go ahead and get the vaccine when it’s their turn, even if they’ve already had Covid-19 and recovered. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of Covid-19 infection, or with detectable Covid-19 antibody. Also, experts don’t yet have a good understanding of how long natural immunity might last and whether you are protected against the various strains of the virus. A vaccine can boost your protection without causing harm and is the best form of defence against the virus.
People who have had COVID-19 infection can be vaccinated after around four weeks of symptoms starting, or four weeks after a positive test in someone who had no symptoms.
If you are invited for your vaccination during this period, please let your GP practice know or book an appointment through the National Booking Service after this time.
If you are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ and you are eligible for a vaccination, you should discuss this with your GP or another healthcare professional who will be able to advise you on whether or not to get the vaccine.
Can undocumented migrants receive the vaccine?
The Covid-19 vaccination programme is available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. In line with published national guidance, migrants to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will be eligible for a vaccine when it is their turn. An NHS number is not needed to be eligible for a Covid vaccination. However, it is helpful to be registered with a GP so that the NHS can invite patients to book a Covid-19 vaccination appointment when it is their turn. Registration with a GP also enables the vaccinator to check for safety issues or medical reasons why the person should not be vaccinated at that time, and to check for previous vaccinations. Patients do not need to show proof of address, ID or immigration status to register with a GP. This also applies if you are an asylum seeker, refugee, a homeless patient or an overseas visitor, whether lawfully in the UK or not.
Why were vaccine manufacturers given immunity from civil liability?
No safety concerns have been reported in vaccines authorised for use following rigorous clinical trials involving tens of thousands of people and extensive analysis of vaccine safety, quality, and effectiveness by experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which approved the vaccine for use. Once the MHRA determined the vaccine was safe, it was given emergency approval which allowed it to be used immediately however, under this approval companies and healthcare professionals are immune from civil liability as long as the vaccine is used correctly. Nevertheless, the government has taken the precautionary step to ensure that, in the very rare possibility where someone is severely affected as a result of the vaccine, they can access financial assistance through the Vaccine Damage Payments Scheme (VDPS).