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COVID-19 vaccination programme has started

The NHS in Hampshire and Isle of Wight has informed us that it started vaccinating patients against coronavirus yesterday (Tuesday) at their first hospital hub, Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth, at the start of the biggest immunisation programme in history.

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) is one of 50 hubs nationwide in the first wave.  More hospitals will start vaccinating over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.

People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk. Patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, will be among the first to receive the life-saving jab.

PHU will also begin inviting over 80s in for a jab and work with care home providers to book their staff in to vaccination clinics.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID.  All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.

NHS staff worked through the weekend to prepare for the launch of the programme. This will be a marathon over the coming months, not a sprint, and the NHS will keep expanding the programme as they get more vaccine, and potentially other vaccines become available.

GPs and other primary care staff are on standby to start delivering the jab. A small number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so during the following week (week beginning 14 December) with more practices in more parts of the country joining in on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.

Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients locally will also subsequently stand up when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.

The NHS is asking that we help to share messages about how the public can help the NHS deliver this effectively to those who need it most:

  • We will contact people when it’s the right time to come forward, so please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine before then.
  • People are encouraged to act on their invite when it comes, and make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them.
  • And of course, please continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.

The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is being used. This vaccine is shown to offer up to 95% efficacy and has been given regulatory approval by the MHRA, the official UK regulator, which has also made clear this vaccine is very safe and highly effective.