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COVID information - update 

Dated: 25-Feb-21

Are you or a family member in one of these groups?  Take control. Book your first COVID vaccination now.

 If you:

·       are aged 64 or over

·       are a frontline health and social care worker

please, book today to have your potentially life-saving vaccination. You can book through the national booking system here: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

                                                                                                       

The national booking service allows you to arrange an appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy-led service.  Call 119 if you don’t have the internet. You can choose a time slot and location that suits you. 

 

If it isn’t possible for you to attend any of the vaccination centres offered through the national booking service, then get in touch with the practice and we will offer you an appointment at our GP-led vaccination centre instead.

Vaccinations for people with learning disabilities and their Carers

The local NHS plans to vaccinate all adults (aged 16 and over) with a learning disability and their Carers by the end of February.

 

Our surgery is contacting people with learning disabilities and/or their Carers on their behalf, to arrange an appointment to have their first COVID-19 vaccine. If you have not been contacted and believe you should be registered with us as having a learning disability, please contact the practice to discuss this.

 

Family Carers of adults with a learning disability are also eligible for a vaccine. This can be arranged at the same time as booking the appointment for the person with learning disabilities.

 

There is more information on vaccinations for people with learning disabilities and their Carers on this NHS website: https://www.healthierfuture.org.uk/covid/coronavirus-information-for-people-with-learning-disabilities

Vaccinations for people aged 16-65 with specified underlying health conditions

Vaccinations are now being offered to people aged 16-65 with specified underlying health conditions, sometimes called ‘clinically at risk’. If you have one of the identified health conditions you will be contacted through your GP practice soon to book your first vaccination.

The list of conditions included in this list has been decided nationally by the joint committee on vaccinations and immunisations (JCVI). This is based on your risk of suffering serious illness if you get coronavirus – it is not about how unwell you are, or how your condition or illness affects your daily life.

The list of conditions and treatments is set nationally and tightly defined and it is: 

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness
We have to follow this JCVI guidance when we vaccinate our patients and cannot move you onto the list of people with underlying health conditions unless there has been a mistake in your medical records.  

Vaccinations for eligible 16 and 17 year olds

Note that if you are aged 16 or 17 and qualify for a vaccine because you have a learning disability, are a front-line health or social care worker, or have a specified underlying health condition, you will be offered the Pfizer vaccine, because this is the only vaccine that is currently licenced for people of your age.  We will contact you to make these arrangements. 

Vaccinations for Carers

If you are aged 16 and over and support an adult who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, you should now get your vaccination. Carers of children are not included in this phase, apart from Carers of children who have serious neuro-disabilities and other complications.

 

You don’t need to wait to be contacted if you are registered to receive a Carer’s Allowance. You can book an appointment now via the national booking service www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

                                                                                                       

The national booking service allows you to arrange an appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy-led service.  Call 119 if you don’t have the internet. You can choose a time slot and location that suits you. 

 

If it isn’t possible for you to attend any of the vaccination centres offered through the national booking service, then wait for us to contact you, and we will offer you an appointment at our GP-led vaccination centre instead.

 

If you do not receive Carer’s Allowance, but you are registered with us at your GP practice as an unpaid Carer, we will contact you to arrange your vaccination at our GP-led vaccination centre. 


If you consider that you are a Carer for someone who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, but you do not receive Carers Allowance and are not registered here at the practice as a Carer, please email us at this address admin.annandale1@nhs.net  

The NHS is working closely with social care services colleagues and organisations that represent Carers to put in place arrangements to offer the vaccine as soon as possible to  other Carers who will be eligible to receive a vaccine but don’t meet the current criteria in terms of the two categories mentioned above. .   For example, if you are known to be a Carer by social services or Carers in Herts, you will be contacted directly by the NHS in the coming weeks. For other Carers who are not known by social services or other organisations, we will provide information for you and share this as widely as possible – do look out for more information.  

Shielding programme extended

The government has extended the national shielding programme to protect an additional 1.7 million people nationally. This follows evidence that some people are now known to be at a higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 due to a combination of personal and health risk factors such as age, gender, ethnicity and weight (BMI). 

Thousands of Hertfordshire and west Essex residents who are under 70 are now receiving shielding letters. This group of patients will be prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccination. You will hear from the practice in the coming days about booking your first appointment. If you have already received a shielding letter, you can book an appointment now through the national booking service which will allow you to arrange an appointment at one of the vaccination centres or community pharmacy sites.

The county council and partner organisations are continuing to support residents who request support via the National Shielding Support Service (NSSS) website: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support. This can help with:

  • Deliveries of medication using volunteer support 
  • Food assistance including volunteer shopper support (via Communities Help Hertfordshire) or purchasable food boxes (via Herts Independent Living Services)
  • Crisis support for those in financial difficulty or needing urgent support
  • Care support including mental health support, befriending, wellbeing visits or transport to vaccinations.
HertsHelp are also continuing to support users who do not have access to online services or are in urgent need of support. You can contact HertsHelp direct seven days a week on 0300 1234 044 or info@hertshelp.net.

Q&A - for patients

I’ve just received a letter telling me I need to shield – it’s the first I’ve had. What should I do?

People with certain conditions are considered to be at high risk, or ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’, to the health risks posed by COVID-19.  As a result, they are advised to shield at home. More information is available here; shielding people should stay home and avoid contact with anyone outside their bubble if at all possible. Many people received letters about this back in the spring of 2020 and have had ongoing updates. 

Based on evidence, more people are now known to be at high risk from COVID-19, so more people are now receiving these letters. Shielding can be hard, so support is available – there’s information in the link above. People who are shielding are also a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine: you should shortly hear from your GP to make an appointment, but you can go ahead and book a vaccination through the national booking system by visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119 if you don’t have the internet. 

I have a long term health condition, and I’ve heard that this means I get the vaccine next. Is this true?

People with some long-term health conditions, or those receiving some treatments, are known as ‘clinically at risk’, which means they have a higher risk of being seriously ill if they catch COVID-19. Please note that these conditions are different (and generally less severe) than the list of conditions that require people who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to shield. If you are in this clinically at risk category and have not yet had the vaccine you will be invited to get your first jab from now onwards. We will contact you to have this done at a local GP-led vaccination centre. 

Please note that the list of conditions is tightly defined: it isn’t a question of how unwell you are, or how your condition affects you, but only how much risk of serious illness from COVID-19 your condition puts you in. The conditions included in this list is set nationally, by the joint committee on vaccinations and immunisations (JCVI) and your GP has very little discretion in terms of which patients will come under this category.   We have to follow this JCVI guidance when we vaccinate our patients and cannot move you onto the list of people with underlying health conditions unless there has been a mistake in your medical records.  

The summary list of conditions is: 

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

I care for a relative – can I get the vaccination?

If you are aged 16 and over and support an adult who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, you should now get your vaccination.  Carers of children are not included in this phase, apart from Carers of children who have serious neuro-disabilities and other complications.

The national booking service allows you to arrange an appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy-led service.  Call 119 if you don’t have the internet. You can choose a time slot and location that suits you.  

If it isn’t possible for you to attend any of the vaccination centres offered through the national booking service, then wait for us to contact you, and we will offer you an appointment at our GP-led vaccination centre instead.

If you do not receive Carer’s Allowance, but you are registered with us at your GP practice as an unpaid carer, we will contact you to arrange your vaccination.  


If you consider that you are a Carer for someone who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, but you do not receive Carers Allowance and are not known to your GP as a Carer, please contact us at this address The Elms, High Street, Potters Bar, Herts, EN6 5DA or call us on 01707 644 451 so that we can talk this through with you. 

The NHS is working closely with social care services colleagues and organisations that represent Carers to put in place arrangements to offer the vaccine as soon as possible to  other Carers who will be eligible to receive a vaccine but don’t meet the current criteria in terms of the two categories mentioned above.    For example, if you are known to be a Carer by social services or Carers in Herts, you will be contacted directly by the NHS in the coming weeks. For other Carers who are not known by social services or other organisations, we will provide information for you and share this as widely as possible – do look out for more information.  

I had my first vaccination in January at my GP-led vaccination centre but don’t have my second date yet. Who should I call?

Please don’t call anyone. You will be invited back to the same place you went to receive your first dose, about 12 weeks after you had the first jab. About three quarters of people vaccinated so far had their first jab at a GP-run clinic, and those sites have recently received dates for when they will receive their second dose supplies. They will be arranging dates for the second dose clinics, and will be in touch nearer the time. 

Remember that you aren’t fully vaccinated until after the second dose. Getting the second jab is as important as getting the first. 

This week new groups have been added to the list of those now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine 

In addition, those in earlier cohorts, including those aged 65 and over and patients who are clinically extremely vulnerable (ie. shielded patients), are being urged to come forward for their vaccine if they have not already had it. This could through the national online booking service www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Alternatively people will respond to the contact they have had from their GP. 

This week 64-year-olds are being invited to book through the national booking service. 

Cohort 6 - Clinically at risk patients (CAR)

Cohort 6 is for patients with long-term or underlying health conditions that put them as risk of developing a serious illness if they contract COVID-19. The dividing lines are not about how ill someone is, but only their risk if they develop COVID-19, and it is set nationally.

The simplified public list of conditions and treatments that make someone eligible for cohort 6 is in the practice website text above. A full and more detailed list appears in the Green Book chapter 14a from pages 10-11 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/961287/Greenbook_chapter_14a_v7_12Feb2021.pdf

Please note that the Green Book says “The examples above are not exhaustive, and, within these groups, the prescriber should apply clinical judgment to take into account the risk of COVID-19 exacerbating any underlying disease that a patient may have, as well as the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 itself.” The vast majority of people are either clearly, according to the definitions, entitled to be on one of these lists or they are not. There will be some borderline cases that require clinical judgement, but the dividing lines are drawn nationally.

 Cohort 6 – adult Carers.

People aged 16 and over who support an adult who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom they have close personal or face to face contact, should now be getting vaccinated.  Carers of children are not included in this phase, apart from Carers of children who have serious neuro-disabilities and other complications.

Patients do not need to wait to be contacted if they are registered to receive a Carer’s Allowance.  They can book an appointment via the national booking service www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.   GP-led vaccination networks should now contact their registered Carers directly to offer them appointments.  

Please be prepared to be contacted by people who consider that they are a Carer for someone who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom they have close personal or face to face contact, but who does not receive Carers Allowance and is not yet known to your practice as a Carer.  You may wish to check your local processes and website information for Carers, so that you can manage enquiries effectively and supportively.  

Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) – additional patients

The government recently announced an extension of the list of those advised to shield. Using the Qcovid tool, an additional 1.7m residents nationally have been announced as being advised to shield based on a risk assessment, alongside the current 2.2m. This new cohort is based on a number of personal and health factors which when combined place the resident at higher risk of death from covid-19, including age, gender, ethnicity and BMI.

 The group of new CEV shielding patients are a high priority to receive a first dose of the vaccine, if they have not already done so on the basis of age. The Green Book contains a definition of CEV that you might want to look at. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/961287/Greenbook_chapter_14a_v7_12Feb2021.pdf. 

The Green Book recognises that in some borderline cases some clinical judgement about CEV is allowable. It says “A hospital clinician or GP can also add a patient to the list, based on their clinical judgement, because they consider them to be at very high risk of serious illness from COVID-19.” 

People who were identified last year as clinically extremely vulnerable were asked to shield and should have been offered the vaccine first dose already as part of cohort 4. 

Alongside this, the existing CEV group of residents in Hertfordshire will be told shielding is being extended until 31st March. 

Support for people asked to shield is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus-shielding-support


HertsHelp are also continuing to support shielding people who do not have access to online services or are in urgent need of support. HertsHelp, telephone0300 1234 044 or email info@hertshelp.net,  is open 7 days a week.

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