Flu jabs and COVID boosters
With September fast approaching, so does the annual flu season.
Last year, record numbers of people in England took the opportunity to receive a flu vaccination, helping to protect themselves, their families and the wider community. Together they helped to keep flu levels low.
This year in the UK we will have both the influenza virus and COVID-19 circulating throughout the winter months. Therefore people will be offered both a flu vaccination plus a COVID booster. The vaccinations will begin towards the end of September in order to protect the most vulnerable before the flu virus starts circulating widely.
The GP practices which make up the Ely Primary Care Network* are currently working hard to put robust plans in place to rapidly deliver both flu jabs and COVID boosters to all our eligible patients.
While final details are still to be confirmed, the seasonal flu vaccine roll out is expected to operate in a similar way to how the COVID vaccination has been delivered locally, that is with people in our priority groups being invited first.
Details confirmed so far:
- All vaccines and boosters will be given at Cathedral Medical Centre or Staploe Medical Centre.
- There will be no flu clinics at individual surgeries, except for nasal flu sprays given to children
- All eligible patients will be contacted by their surgeries when it is their turn
- The clinics are expected held during some evenings as well as Saturdays, starting from the end of September.
We expect that care home residents and staff, healthcare workers and those over 80 will be invited first. These are people who had their COVID vaccinations early in the year and who may now need a booster to ensure they remain as fully protected as possible.
People with chronic conditions or who are clinically vulnerable and those aged between 65 and 79 will also be called, with people aged 50-64 being invited in due course. It is hoped that the flu and booster programme will be completed as quickly as possible.
Final plans will be confirmed as soon as possible. Do keep an eye on the website (link) or on our Facebook page.
What do I need to do?
- We will be in touch with you via text or phone to book your flu jab appointment.
- Please DO NOT ring the surgery to book. You will be invited for your flu jab and COVID booster when it is your turn.
More about COVID boosters
Our local COVID vaccination programme has been very successful. In the last eight months, we have given over 80,000 vaccinations to people living in Ely, Soham and surrounding areas.
It is very important that the protection from coronavirus which has been built up in our local population does not decline through the winter months and Ely PCN wishes to maximise this immunity especially against COVID variants. So our local booster programme will be designed to protect as many of our vulnerable patients as possible during the winter months.
More details about our local COVID booster programme will be issued in due course.
More about flu vaccinations
What is flu?
Flu or influenza isn’t just a heavy cold. It is a highly infectious disease that occurs every year and which can spread rapidly in communities. It is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. That is nose, mouth, throat, windpipe and lungs.
Common symptoms include:
- Fever, chills, headache, muscle and joint pain and extreme fatigue
- Dry cough, sore throat and stuffy nose
- Vomiting and diarrhoea, particularly in young children.
Healthy people usually recover within 7 days but for some – including older people, those who are clinically extremely vulnerable, pregnant women, and children under 6 months – the flu virus can be very serious.
How do you catch flu?
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they spread the flu virus in tiny droplets of saliva over a wide area. These droplets are then breathed in by other people or they can be picked up by touching surfaces where the droplets have landed.
Even people with mild or no symptoms can infect others.
The best way to avoid catching and spreading the flu is to have a vaccination before any outbreaks of flu hit the local community.
Remember you need a flu jab every year. Please don’t assume you are protected because you had one last year.
Who is eligible for a FREE flu vaccination?
- Adults aged 16 or over who are immunosuppressed or considered clinically extremely vulnerable
- Those living in residential care homes for older adults
- All adults aged 70 years and over
- Frontline health and social care workers
- Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable
- Pregnant women.
For a second year, all adults aged between 50 and 64 will also be invited.
[Footnote *Ely PCN consists of the following GP practices: Burwell Surgery, Cathedral Medical Centre, Haddenham Surgery, St George’s Medical Centre, , St Mary’s Surgery and Staploe Medical Centre]
Explainer information for patients about QCOVID
Why have I received this letter?
NHS England had used a risk assessment tool called QCOVID to calculate people’s risk of getting COVID. This is a complex tool that looks at a variety of different factors to assess peoples’ risk. Because you have received this letter, you are one of the patients identified by the tool as being at high risk if you were to get COVID. You can see all the information your GP received here.
What in my medical records has caused me to be added to this list?
Unfortunately, your GP surgery has no current way of replicating the analysis that has been done by NHS Digital and so we are unable to tell you why you have been added to this list. This situation may change over time, but we have no way of knowing when.
What should I do now? Should I go to work? Should I go out?
You should follow the advice detailed here. This will mean that you need to take extra measures above and beyond those which you probably have been taking. The guidance covers:
- Social activities
- Educational settings
- Accessing care and support
- Registering for additional support
You may be eligible for additional support and should be able to receive statutory sick pay for time off from work.
What about vaccination?
If you are under 65 you should be prioritised for vaccination ahead of others in cohort 6 which is people who are at risk because of a variety of medical conditions. If you are over 65 you will have already been in group 5, so this won’t affect the priority with which you’re given the vaccine.
What if I think they’ve added me incorrectly?
At the moment, the best way to review this is through discussion with your GP. Please bear in mind that GPs are incredibly busy at the moment vaccinating patients as well as trying to provide as normal a service to patients as possible. Because of this it may not be possible to immediately deal with enquiries about this and you may be asked to submit your details in an online form.
Do I have to follow this guidance?
Patients at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to follow shielding guidance. However, this is advice, and not the law. Patients can choose whether or not they want to follow it.
Why am I only now being identified as high risk?
This tool has only just been approved for use in assessing patient’s risk of COVID 19. Until now we haven’t had sufficient scientific evidence to run population-based tools that can accurately assess people’s risk of developing COVID.
About the GP-led Covid Vaccination Programme
The GP-led part of the Covid Vaccination Programme is being delivered through 'Primary Care Networks' - these are groups of GP practices defined by the government. In the case of Ely, there is Ely North PCN (Cathedral Medical Centre, St George's, and St Mary's), and Ely South PCN (Staploe Medical Centre, Haddenham Surgery, and Burwell Surgery). The Ely North and Ely South PCNs are working together to deliver the vaccination programme as one.
We are contractually obliged to deliver the vaccines from Cathedral and Staploe practices only, but patients from any of the six practices mentioned above can receive their vaccination at either of those two sites. The clinics are staffed by staff from all six practices, plus our amazing army of volunteers.
We are working through the priority cohort lists as defined by the government - there is a strict legal obligation to adhere to these priorities and we are not permitted to vary from this. At the moment, that means patients who are over 80 years old and registered at any of the six practices listed are being vaccinated, alongside health, social care, and frontline healthworkers.
When you are eligible for a vaccination, we will contact you to book you in. If there are more options in terms of where you can be vaccinated, we will advise you at the time. We appreciate that everyone is keen to be vaccinated as soon as possible, but it would help us enormously if you can please be patient and wait for us to reach out to you.
Housebound patients and COVID vaccination – an update from Ely PCN (26 January 2021)
We are working with our local Practice teams, our CCG, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust (CPFT) to deliver COVID vaccinations for housebound people who cannot attend a vaccination centre.
There are important safety constraints around safe transport and delivery of Covid vaccine, which means home vaccination is a particular challenge. However, we are now able to deliver vaccines to eligible housebound people and have already made a good start. We are currently on track to ensure all patients within the priority groups will be vaccinated by the middle of February.
If you are housebound and expecting a Covid vaccination, you can expect a phone call from one of our team who will make arrangements with you.
We hope that you can appreciate the special challenges of community vaccination for housebound patients, and we thank you for bearing with us.
Further information on Covid-19 Vaccination Programme can be found here: https://www.cambridgeshireandpeterboroughccg.nhs.uk/news-and-events/latest-news/covid-19-national-vaccination-programme/