Vaccination Update from Huw Merriman MP – 7 April 2021
At present vaccinations are taking place in hospital hubs; GP led vaccination services; roving services to care homes and the housebound; and in mass vaccination sites/pharmacy sites across the country.
Thanks to the hard work of our vaccination teams more than 1 million vaccinations have been delivered across Sussex. This is a phenomenal achievement.
In the Bexhill and Battle constituency over 61,500 people had received their first dose of the vaccine by 1 April, the tenth highest number of people in any parliamentary constituency in the country. Notably, this area has the third highest number in the country of those aged 75-79 and 70-74 vaccinated, and the fourth highest number of over 80s.
The NHS has published data on the number of people who have been vaccinated for COVID-19, split by constituency of residence and age group. You can access this data as well as other breakdowns such as by ethnicity, care home, lower tier local authority and more here.
All people aged over 50 are now being invited to attend for a vaccination appointments. If you are aged 50 and over you can book your jab online now through the national booking service or by calling 119 free of charge. These appointments will be at the large vaccination centres or community pharmacy-led sites. Alternatively, if it is difficult to get to one of the larger sites, you may have your vaccine at a GP-led service. If this is your choice and you are 70 and over, please contact your local service or GP practice today. If you are 50 and over, please wait and you will be contacted by the GP-led service.
Second vaccination appointments: All those who received their first vaccination at their GP-led hub will be contacted for their second vaccine approximately 10-11 weeks after their first vaccine. Supplies of vaccine are being protected to ensure that priority is given for second vaccinations ahead of any younger cohorts being called for their first vaccinations. Locally, the second vaccinations started last week and will continue to roll out. If you don’t already have your date for your second dose, please be patient. Unless you have already booked both doses through the national booking service, you must have your second dose at the same place that you received your first. . They will contact you to arrange your appointment, but this may not happen until around ten weeks after your first appointment. Please do not contact your GP about your second vaccine appointment unless it is nearly 11 weeks since you had your first vaccine and you have still not been contacted.
Current vaccine supplies: As reported in the press, national vaccine supplies remain 'lumpy' ie, there are peaks and troughs in supplies of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. Nationally, from 15 March we had very strong supplies which meant all vaccination centres were able to operate at their maximum capacity. Looking ahead, we are expecting reduced supplies in April which means that the vaccination sites will have to adapt their operations to ensure they maximise best use of resources, that the priority cohorts are completed and second doses are prioritised. Locally, we are on track to meet the national target of vaccinating all those in JCVI cohorts 1-9 are vaccinated by 15 April.
Hospital hub vaccination services are running at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings and the Eastbourne DGH. These hubs are currently vaccinating all NHS, health and social care workers who are working on the frontline.
GP-led vaccination services In the majority, each service is supported by a number of GP practices (within their Primary Care Network footprint) working together to vaccinate their collective population.
Roving service – the vaccine is being taken into care homes and into people’s own homes if they cannot attend a vaccination site. This is being stepped up over the coming weeks as more supplies of the vaccines become available. GP surgeries are in the processing of contacting their housebound patients in order to schedule their vaccinations. Any housebound patients who have not been contacted for vaccine should contact their local GP surgery.
Mass vaccination centres & pharmacy sites: Mass vaccination centres are located in Eastbourne and Brighton. Brighton has the capacity to vaccinate over 3,000 people each day and Eastbourne over 1,000. People who are eligible can book an appointment through a national booking system and will receive their vaccine by teams from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, who are running the service. These centres all those who are eligible another way to receive their vaccine, in addition to their local GP-led vaccination services.
Pharmacy-led sites have opened in Ticehurst, Hastings. Patients in receipt of an NHS letter can choose to book into a pharmacy-led site through the national booking system. If the options for these do not appear, this will be because the slots have already been taken. More slots will open up when supplies of vaccine are confirmed. It would therefore be helpful to ring or log into the site at a different time if a pharmacy site nearer to you is your preference.
The national NHS booking service will be writing to eligible people providing them all the details they need to book an appointment online or over the phone. Anyone receiving a letter from the national booking service can choose whether to book an appointment at a vaccination centre, or wait until they are contacted by their GP for a local appointment if that would be more convenient.
The increase in the number of vaccination sites going live for local residents over the past weeks has been as a result of the great work of our local NHS teams. Some areas faced more challenges to get services up and running, such as Rural Rother (which includes Battle) and Heathfield (including its surrounds) and Hailsham. However, most of these areas are now being well-served by GP and pharmacy-led vaccination services and supplemented by the mass vaccination centres. The provision in Eastern Rother remains a challenge for residents who are registered with GP practices nearer to Rye. I and Sally-Ann Hart, MP for Hastings and Rye and I have been working closely with the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust to provide a solution. I hope an announcement on an additional vaccination centre in this area is imminent.
Bexhill and surrounds:
The nearest site for Bexhill residents, and those nearby, is at Sidley Medical Practice. This vaccination site was the first to go live in the constituency and has been vaccinating patients since 29 December. it has been set up and is being run and resourced by the following Bexhill GP practices in order to vaccinate their patients:
Collington Surgery, Little Common Surgery, Pebsham Surgery and Sidley Medical Practice
Pevensey and surrounds:
Sovereign Centre is the site for patients at:
Arlington Road Surgery, Grove Road Surgery, Park Practice, Seaside Medical Centre, and The Lighthouse Medical Practice
Princes Park Health Centre, for patients at:
Harbour Medical Practice, Sovereign Practice, Stone Cross Surgery in Pevensey, and Downlands Medical Centre and Manor Park Surgery, both in Polegate
Rural Rother (including Battle)
Rural Rother GP practices are served by a vaccination hub at Etchingham village hall which began its first vaccinations on 20 January.
The GP led vaccination service at Etchingham Village Hall is a partnership between Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust and the following GP practices:
Fairfield Surgery, Ferry Road Health Centre, Martins Oak Surgery, Northiam and Broad Oak Surgery, Oldwood Surgery, Rye Medical Centre, and Sedlescombe and Westfield Surgeries.
Patients from those GP practices who are over the age of 80 will be the first to receive the vaccination from this service.
I have had a number of constituents contact me from Rother Levels asking why they need to travel to Etchingham. The reason is that the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures, which is why large sites needed to be set up to deliver a significant number of vaccines every day. This is also why people who are being vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine need to travel to the hub to get the vaccine.
Whilst it’s great news that Etchingham has started vaccinating I am still pushing for a solution in Battle and rural Rother. I am working closely with our local NHS on an almost daily basis about further locations in the area and how the vaccination can be offered from GP practices to make it as easy as possible for people to receive this vaccination. However, for this to be viable we need greater supplies of the Astra Zeneca vaccine.
I’ve asked the Vaccines Minister and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to consider a more simplified contract for GPs which is less onerous on opening hours and would see the GPs in this area take Astra Zeneca only. The Pfizer vaccines which have more challenging storage and transportation should be focussed at the bigger venues.
Second vaccinations for patients of Rural Rother GP practices:
As people are being invited for their second vaccination, there are some changes to the location of appointments for people in Rural Rother.
For their second dose, anyone who received the Pfizer vaccine for their first vaccination, will be invited to attend the King's Church vaccination service in Hastings for their second dose. Anyone who received the AstraZenaca vaccine for the first dose will be invited to attend the Etchingham vaccination service for their second. It is important you have the same type of vaccine for both doses.
This allows the Etchingham team to continue to focus on first doses and making sure that everyone in the priority groups has the opportunity to receive their vaccination, alongside those who need a second AstraZeneca dose. It has also been arranged as the Hastings service is carrying out their second dose Pfizer clinics at the same time, and has plenty of space for people to have this vaccine and to be observed for the required time after they have received it.
Transport support is available for anyone who needs it. If you have no means to get to your vaccination appointment, you are now able to book a free return journey to help you to attend. Please call our travel coordinator on 07871 603 235 The booking service is available between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 Monday to Friday.
Heathfield and its surrounds
COVID-19 vaccinations are being carried out by GP practice sites in the Greater Wealden Primary Care Network, including Heathfield surgery. Patients can also attend one of the mass vaccination centres or pharmacy sites.
Punnetts Town, Rushlake Green & Dallington
A number of my constituents are registered with GP surgeries which are part of the Hailsham and District Primary Care Network (PCN). The latest information for these patients is as follows:
GPs from the three surgeries which serve Hailsham and its surrounds – Bridgeside Surgery, Hailsham Medical Group and The Quintins Medical Centre – are working in partnership with Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust to provide the vaccination to their patients, starting with those over the age of 80.
Vaccinations are taking place individually by teams at each GP practice.
Travel to Vaccination Sites:
Sussex residents who have no means to get to their COVID-19 vaccination appointment are now able to book a free return journey to help them attend.
To book free travel please book your vaccination appointment first and then call:
- 07871 603 235 for East Sussex residents
to speak to a travel coordinator. The booking service is available between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 Monday to Friday.
Once you are through to a travel coordinator you will be asked the following questions:
- Do you have access to transport to attend your vaccine appointment?
- Do you have a family member, friend or carer who can help with transport? They do not have to be in your bubble as per government guidelines.
If both of these options are not available the travel coordinator will arrange transport for you, including any additional needs such as wheelchair-friendly vehicles.
All transport providers have signed up to a COVID-19 safety policy to ensure that all precautions are in place for a safe journey.
Please be aware that under government guidelines a family member or friend is permitted to take a person to their COVID-19 vaccine appointment, which is classed as an exemption as it is a ‘medical appointment’. Guidance on how to do this safely is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#private-cars-and-other-vehicles (scroll down to ‘Car sharing’).
When going for a vaccination
- People are asked not to arrive early for appointments. Arriving on time will help manage numbers at the site and help to keep everyone safe.
- Always remember Hands, Face, Space. It will save lives and help the NHS.