The Sussex Community NHS Foundation is working to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, but deploying a vaccine at this scale is unprecedented. Timing will be dependent to a large extent on manufacturing timescales and supply.
We have to be realistic that this enormous logistical task is going to take some time to get completely up and running, but good progress is already being made. The Government has set a target of vaccinating the four top priority groups (over 13 million people) by the middle of February, and I will continue to do all I can as the local MP to support the efforts of the CCG in ensuring we meet this target. Today, the Prime Minister announced that 2.4 million people have been vaccinated. Across, Sussex, as of Saturday 9 January, 70,000 residents have been vaccinated. This compares to 38,000 in Surrey and 68,000 across the combined counties of Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunity advises that the first priorities for the COVID-19 vaccination programme should be the prevention of mortality and the maintenance of the health and social care systems. As the risk of mortality from COVID-19 increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age. The order of priority groups for vaccination are as follows:
1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
2. All those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
3. All those 75 years of age and over
4. All those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
5. All those 65 years of age and over
6. All individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
7. All those 60 years of age and over
8. All those 55 years of age and over
9. All those 50 years of age and over
It is estimated that taken together, these groups represent around 99% of preventable mortality from COVID-19. The statistics on the number of people that have been vaccinated will be released daily online and I will be monitoring this data, and the progress being made, closely.
I know that work is continuing to set out future priorities and I will be studying this carefully. The committee is currently of the view that the key focus for the second phase of vaccination could be on further preventing hospitalisation. Vaccination of those at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 due to their occupation could also be a priority in the next phase. This could include first responders, the military, those involved in the justice system, teachers, transport workers, and public servants essential to the pandemic response.
With parts of the constituency not moving as fast as the more urban parts of Sussex, I am reassured that the County will look to ensure that it delivers to the first four priority groups by 15 February before moving onto the next. This will be done by ensuring supply is aimed at the areas where the first four cohorts still need to be vaccinated.
I am keen that we receive more regular detail on numbers vaccinated in order to explain and keep the pressure up. This will be achieved via improved national and local data which is expected to be released this week and will allow for a county by county picture.
The Health Secretary has committed to ensure that everyone who needs it will be vaccinated by Autumn. This should give comfort to those who do not qualify within the 9 priority groups.
This is a mammoth task and I appreciate concern about the speed at which we are delivering. Please note that, whilst the UK delivers its 2.4 millionth vaccination, France had delivered under 50,000 vaccines to its citizens as of Friday 8 January. We had been in a position of delivering more of the vaccine than the EU nations put together. I’d rather be more ambitious and seek to catch up with Israel (which has the best global record).