Published — 13 January, 2021

Covid-19 vaccination progress – 13 January 2021

COVID-19 vaccination progress.
We are all keen for as much information as possible about the national and local roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine which is why I am writing to you today.
The vaccine provides us with a light at the end of the tunnel in the current lockdown but the medical advice we are receiving could not be clearer.  We all need to stay at home unless our journey is absolutely essential.
Vaccine supply.
The supply of the vaccine is critical.  The UK was the first in the world to sign an agreement with Oxford University/AstraZeneca, securing access to 100 million doses of the vaccine on behalf of the whole of the UK.  The news that 2.4 million people have been vaccinated is very positive.  
The vaccine supply is based on when the manufacturers can supply it and the regulators give each batch safety approval.  As soon as it is available, it is distributed around the country to vaccination centres where it is immediately used. That means that not every centre is open every day yet but as vaccine supply is increasing that is changing. 
Our area has received the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine. More supplies are arriving this week alongside more Pfizer vaccine, and that will help to ramp up the number of vaccinations locally. 
Local vaccinations.
The Yorkshire Event Centre at the Great Yorkshire Showground is our local vaccination site. So far it has vaccinated over 3,000 local clinically vulnerable people plus vaccinations have gone to many residents in care homes as teams have visited those unable to visit the centre. This work is ongoing.
A programme alongside this is getting the vaccine to frontline healthcare workers and a national scheme to involve community pharmacies that I want to see rolled out locally begins this week.
What happens at the vaccination centre.
I have personally visited the vaccination centre at the Great Yorkshire Showground to see the process and the work being done to vaccinate people in our area. I was impressed by what I saw, the centre was busy with people at varying stages of the process. The whole operation between NHS staff and volunteers to create the vaccination centre is remarkable. They were vaccinating between 125 and 135 people per hour last week and as supply ramps up the rate of vaccination will increase correspondingly. The centre was very organised and operating smoothly. I was very reassured that it is also set up to increase capacity as the extra supplies of vaccine come on stream. 
Concern about second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
I have questioned the provision of the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine following the change in advice.  The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunology (JCVI) has issued findings which have since been endorsed by all four Chief Medical Officers of the United Kingdom.  That guidance states:
“The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has subsequently recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should sequentially be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority. They have advised that the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine may be given between 3 to 12 weeks following the first dose, and that the second dose of the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine may be given between 4 to 12 weeks following the first dose. The clinical risk priority order for deployment of the vaccines remains unchanged and applies to both vaccines. Both are very effective vaccines.

“The 4 UK Chief Medical Officers agree with the JCVI that at this stage of the pandemic prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the NHS and equivalent health services.”

Appointments for vaccination.

The NHS is calling people forward for vaccination and you should wait to be contacted by them so that the process can happen as quickly as possible.  They are vaccinating the most clinically vulnerable groups first which include the over 80s, those in care homes and people working in front line health care.  Of COVID-19 fatalities, 88 per cent come from these groups which is why they are being prioritised.

Moving forward.

The number of cases in our area has been going up worryingly fast. The new variant is here in North Yorkshire. Even though we can see the finish line, we must remain vigilant and take every care. The NHS advice is to comply with the guidelines and suppress the spread whilst they roll out the vaccinations.  We should all do that.

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