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Last updated: 08 April 2021

Vaccines are the best way to protect people from COVID-19 and have already saved thousands of lives.

In Somerset, up until the 4 April we have given 367,549 vaccinations to the most vulnerable in the county.

A breakdown of this figure is below and it shows that we have vaccinated:

  • 89.9% of those aged 50 – 54
  • 95.4% of those aged 55 – 59
  • 96.9% of those aged 60 – 64
  • 91.8% of those aged 65 – 69
  • 99.3%of those aged 70 – 74
  • 100% of those aged 75 – 79
  • 98.7% of those aged over 80

Who are we vaccinating?

We are currently vaccinating the first nine groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. This includes those aged over 50 and those of all ages who have a health condition that put them at greater risk from COVID-19. If you are within any of these groups and have not had your first dose, please book online today at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119.

If you already have an appointment over the coming weeks, whether for your first or second dose, this remains in place and it’s really important that you attend it as planned. If we need to make any changes to appointments, we will contact you directly.

Please be aware that over the next few weeks operating days and times at our vaccination sites will flex up and down in line with vaccine supply and bookings, following the JCVI guidance on priority cohorts and when to administer second doses. A small number of appointments may also be rescheduled to alternative days.  

What is the recent change in guidance with respect to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine?

On 7 April 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued new advice, concluding a possible link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca and extremely rare, unlikely to occur blood clots. It concluded that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks but advised careful consideration be given to people who are at higher risk of specific types of blood clots because of their medical condition.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has weighed the relative balance of benefits and risks of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and advise that:

  • the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 30 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease. 
  • It is preferable for adults aged under 30 years without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine, if available. People may make an informed choice to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to receive earlier protection.

What should I do next?

Public Health England has provided advice.

If you are over 50 years of age or have underlying medical conditions

The MHRA and the JCVI advises that you should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The benefits of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition.

You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose. If your first dose was with AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects, you should have the second dose on time as you may still be at high risk of the complications of COVID-19. Having the second dose will give you higher and longer lasting protection.

If you are a healthy person between 30 and 50 years of age

The MHRA and the JCVI advises that all adults in this age group (including health and social care workers) should still receive any of the available COVID-19 vaccines. The benefts of vaccination in protecting you against the serious consequences of COVID-19 outweigh any risk of this rare condition. You should also complete your course with the same vaccine you had for the first dose.

If you are a healthy younger person aged 18 to 29

The MHRA and the JCVI continue to monitor the benefits and safety of the AZ vaccine in younger people. You should carefully consider the risk to both you and your family and friends of COVID-19 before making a decision. Currently JCVI has advised that it is preferable for people under 30 to have a vaccine other than AZ. If you choose to have another COVID-19 vaccine you may have to wait to be protected. You may wish to go ahead with the AZ vaccination after you have considered all the risks and benefits for you.

What about the second dose?

If you have already had a first dose of AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects you should complete the course. This includes people aged 18 to 29 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed. It is expected that the first dose of the vaccine will have given you some protection, particularly against severe disease.

Where in Somerset are vaccinations being delivered?

Vaccinations are currently being delivered through:

  • hospital hubs
  • GP-led community sites
  • large vaccination centres located at Taunton Racecourse and the Bath and West Showground
  • Pharmacy- led sites located in Taunton, Bruton, Burnham on Sea and Morrisons in Yeovil

Our GP-led sites are being organised by primary care networks (PCNs), which are groups of local GP practices in an area working together to deliver vaccinations in community locations. We have 13 PCNs (which cover the whole of Somerset) vaccinating patients. This is a complex programme; delivering the vaccines to GP practices across Somerset. Everyone is working hard behind the scenes to ensure they are ready to vaccinate when the time comes. 

Somerset has a number of large and pharmacy-led vaccination centres across the county

  • Taunton Racecourse
  • Bath and West Showground, Shepton Mallet
  • Morrisons car park, Lysander Road, Yeovil
  • Bruton Pharmacy, Bruton Community Hall, Bruton
  • Boots Pharmacy, High Street, Taunton

The centres will be staffed by vaccinators and clinical supervisors, as well as administrators, staff and stewards to ensure that the centre runs smoothly for those attending. 

News and other information

Latest news and updates:

You can read the latest news on the vaccination programme on our news pages here: Somerset CCG news pages 

Other Frequently Asked Questions

What vaccine for Covid-19 is currently available?

Currently both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are available (although a third, the Moderna vaccine has also recently been approved).  They both offer high levels of protection and have been shown to be safe.   

Vaccines are approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) who regulate medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK.

How do you know the Covid-19 vaccine is safe?

The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). 

Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety. 

Further reading: 

On 7 April 2021, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued new advice, concluding a possible link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca and extremely rare, unlikely to occur blood clots. It concluded that the benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh any risks but advised careful consideration be given to people who are at higher risk of specific types of blood clots because of their medical condition. Please see the information above for further details.

Worried about pregnancy and the vaccine?

You probably have loads of questions around the Covid-19 vaccine, including: 

  • if the vaccine is safe for pregnant women
  • if the vaccine is safe if you are breastfeeding 
  • if the vaccine is safe if you are of childbearing age 
  • does the vaccine contain animal products 
  • how effective is the vaccine 
  • the side effects of the vaccine 

Rather than us answer them here, it’s easier for you to check out the following websites. These are constantly reviewed and updated with the most relevant and up to date information:

Can I choose which vaccination I have?

You cannot choose which Covid-19 vaccine you receive. The vaccines have been tested extensively in thousands of people and are highly effective in providing protection against coronavirus. You can read more about the vaccines and their safety in our other FAQs.

Who will receive the vaccine – what is meant by priority groups? 

The NHS is currently in the process of offering the vaccine to people in the top nine priority groups.

When everyone in these groups has had the chance to get their first dose of the vaccine the programme will expand to other people that are at risk either due to their age group or medical condition in line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which provides guidance on advice on the priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination.  

The JCVI 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.  

We are working our way through the priority patients to ensure the most vulnerable in our society receive the vaccine first. 

  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. 

Further reading: 

Why do I have to wait for my Covid-19 vaccination? 

So how do I book my vaccination?

There are a number of ways in which you might be offered to attend your vaccination – we are encouraging those who have received a letter inviting them to book through the national booking service to use this route and book their appointment.

Can’t attend a large vaccination centre?

People who are eligible and who live within 45 minutes of a large vaccination centre may receive a letter from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service inviting them to book an appointment.

The letter provides everything you need to book these appointments. The link to booking online is here, but you will need your letter to use this system.

While we encourage everyone to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity – if you cannot travel to you can choose to wait for an invitation from your local GP-Led clinic.

I want to wait to attend my GP-led clinic – who do I tell?

No one – you do not need to contact your GP to let them know you are not booking an appointment through the national vaccination service, but we would strongly encourage those who have been invited to book through the national booking system and are able to travel, to attend one of the large or pharmacy-led sites available.

I want to attend my GP-led clinic – who do I tell?

You do not need to contact you GP to let them know you are not booking an appointment through the national vaccination service. You will be picked up by your GP when they are calling your priority group. 

Why is my local GP practice not providing the vaccination?

Our GP practices are working together as Primary Care Networks. We have 13 in Somerset. Currently all vaccines are being delivered from local vaccination centres, within each primary care network.

At the moment no GP practices have been able to vaccinate within their own practice unless they have been designated as the ‘local vaccination centre’ for their PCN. We are currently working through guidance that we hope will make this possible in the near future.

The programme is evolving all the time, this may change, but we urge those who have been invited attend an appointment to go where possible.

I am a health and care worker – who do I need to speak to?

We recognise the importance of providing protection to all health and social care workers across the county who are at increased, personal risk of exposure to infection.

Health and care workers can now book their vaccination appointments through the National Booking Service. This will allow you to attend one of the large vaccination or pharmacy-led centres listed.

You should be told what you need to take with you when you attend your vaccination, please remember to take your identity card or proof of your employer with you when you attend.

I’m under 65 and have been offered a Covid-19 vaccination by my local GP-led vaccination hub – is this right?

Our GP-led primary care network hubs are now inviting those in priority group six to come forward for vaccination at a GP-led hub. People in this group will be aged between 16 and 64 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.

Our GP teams are working through their lists of patients to identify those in this group and invite them to book an appointment as quickly as they can.

If you receive an invitation for vaccination from your local GP-led hub, we encourage you to take up the offer.

I am an unpaid carer. When will I be offered a Covid-19 vaccination?

We are currently inviting people in priority group six to come forward for vaccination at a GP-led hub. Priority group six includes those carers who are:

We are currently inviting people in priority group six to come forward for vaccination at a GP-led hub. Priority group six includes those carers who are:

  • Eligible for a carer’s allowance and/or
  • The sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of Covid-19 mortality and, therefore, clinically vulnerable.

Therefore, if you receive carer’s allowance and/or are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who fits the JCVI guidelines below, you should receive an invitation for a Covid-19 vaccination. Our GP teams are working through their lists of patients to identify those in this group and invite them to book an appointment as quickly as they can.

JCVI guidelines for those who are identified as clinically vulnerable for the purposes of priority group 6:

  • children with severe neurodisabilities
  • those who are designated as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable
  • those who need care because of advanced age

adults who have underlying health conditions (such as diabetes, serious mental illness or chronic heart disease). Table 3 in the Green Book gives more information on the identified underlying health conditions and can be viewed here: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/961287/Greenbook_chapter_14a_v7_12Feb2021.pdf

When will I get my second dose? 

This depends on how and where you were vaccinated for your first dose. You will always be advised to attend the same place you got vaccinated for your second appointment.

  • I had my first vaccination done through a GP-led clinic – if you were vaccinated through a GP-led clinic then you will be contacted to book in your second dose, when the time is right. This should be around 10 – 11 weeks after your 1st dose is given. You do not need to do anything other than wait for a call to book in your second dose
  • I had my first vaccination done through the National Booking Service – you may have already booked your second dose in when you booked your first. If you did not do this, you should be able to book your second dose through the same route. You will be directed to attend the same vaccination centre or pharmacy-led clinic you attended for your first vaccination.
  • I am a health and care worker – Health and care workers will be contacted with a date for their second dose appointment through the vaccination centre they attended for their first dose. You need to ensure you attend the same place you did initially.

I am not registered with a local GP – how will I get my vaccine? 

Everyone is encouraged to register with a GP; this is the best way to access NHS care. If you are temporarily staying in Somerset, for example with family members you can register as a temporary patient at a local GP surgery.

If you think that during the time you are registered you are likely to be invited for your vaccination that you discuss with the surgery whether it would be more appropriate to register as a permanent resident as you will need to receive your second dose of vaccine from the same site as you receive your first dose.

This gap between the first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine is currently twelve weeks.

You can re-register with your normal GP when you finally return home. Any treatment or details of any visits/vaccinations will be recorded and added to your medical records, which will be shared with your regular practice on your return. 

For more information registering as a temporary resident/permanent resident and support on finding a local GP please visit the NHS website for further information

Everyone is entitled to NHS care; this includes members of traveller communities. If you have any difficulties with registering with a GP surgery, please contact the Somerset CCG Patient Advice and Liaison team.

Other useful links include:

How to access NHS services in England if you are visiting from abroad – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

How to register with a GP surgery – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

NHS entitlements: migrant health guide – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

I would like to volunteer to help the vaccination programme – how do I offer my support? 

It has been truly inspiring to see just how many people are wanting to provide their support for the COVID -19 vaccination programme. There are a number of ways in which you can get involved. 

  1. You can contact visit the Covid-19 vaccination programme pages on Somerset Foundation Trust’s website to find out what they are looking for and then email: mvp.recruitment@somersetft.nhs.uk  

OR 

  1. Visit the Spark Somerset website for information on ways to get involved including becoming a COVID Community Champion to volunteering to become a steward and help out at vaccination sites across the county.  

Many people are also getting in contact to provide buildings and venues as suitable locations for vaccination clinics. We really appreciate all of your support and offers of help. The vaccine needs to be carefully managed in controlled conditions – for a number of reasons. For the majority of cases this will mean that certain locations may not be suitable. We are still happy for you to get in touch with these offers – you can email somccg.enquiries@nhs.net

Covid-19 vaccine fraud – be aware!

We are aware that there are a number of criminals harnessing the vaccination programme and using it as a way to target member of the public and tricking them into handing over cash or financial details. 

There are a number of ways in which this is being done including: 

  • Convincing looking text messages 
  • Phoning people directly pretending to be from the NHS or from a local pharmacy

The NHS will never ask for the following: 

Please review this helpful information and share with friends and family who may not be alert to these scams.  

  • Payment – the vaccine is free 
  • Ask for your bank details 
  • Arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccines 
  • Ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of your personal documents, such as your passport.