Covid-19 vaccinations in Somerset
Please do not call or turn up at your GP surgery or the local hospital to enquire about COVID vaccinations.
We know that patients and all health and care staff are eager to find out when they will receive their COVID vaccination. The NHS is prioritising vaccinating those people who experts have agreed, will benefit from it the most and we are systematically working through all eligible groups according to the national priorities.
Please be assured that we will contact you directly, when it is your turn to book your vaccination and we will answer all your questions at your appointment. Please continue to attend any appointments as planned – if we need to change any details for your vaccination appointment you will be contacted directly.
Health and care teams across Somerset are working exceptionally hard to roll out our local vaccination programme in Somerset in line with the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation’s prioritisation and we are continuing to vaccinate people aged 80 and over, care home residents and staff, as well as widening out the offer to frontline health and social care staff.
Background Information – progress so far
On 2 December, The independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) confirmed, that one of the highly anticipated COVID-19 Vaccinations, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine had been approved for use. Delivering the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine is complex as it needs to be stored at very cold temperatures and moved carefully. The first Pfizer vaccines have been delivered through our first hospital hub and GP-led community vaccination sites. Defrosting the vaccine takes a few hours and then additional time is required to prepare to administer it.
On 30 December, it was announced that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was authorised by the MHRA for use in the UK. The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation (JCVI) has said that both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine ‘give very high protection against severe disease’ and both have good safety records.
Within Somerset we have been working in partnership with our health and care providers to make the vaccine available to the people of Somerset in a planned way and in line with national guidance. This includes delivering it in a number of locations to enable easier access for as many people as possible. This will include large county sites, community sites in locations across the county, hospital hubs, some GP surgeries and via teams of mobile vaccinators for those who cannot leave their homes.
Updated guidance from MHRA, JCVI and the UK Chief Medical Officers has also been published to advise increasing the spacing of second vaccine doses for both the new Oxford/ AstraZeneca vaccine and the current Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. This decision will allow us to get the maximum benefit for the most people in the shortest possible time and will help save lives. In line with the JCVI’s prioritisation, for now this means continuing to vaccinate people aged 80 and over, care home residents and staff, as well as widening out the offer to frontline health and social care staff.
We will contact you directly to arrange the details of your vaccination appointment, please do not contact your local GP surgery or hospital. It is important that everyone continues to attend their vaccination appointments as planned.
Who will receive the vaccine as a priority?
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has published its guidance for the priority groups to receive the vaccine, including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
Patients aged over 80, care home residents and health and social care staff have been identified as initial priority groups to receive the vaccine. We are continuing to develop a range of ways that the vaccine will be offered to these groups in Somerset, considering the requirements of the vaccine and how much we have available in the early stages of our vaccination programme.
What should people do to book in for their vaccine?
We understand that many people will be feeling anxious and worried about spread of the virus and are keen to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their loved ones. Health and care teams across Somerset are working exceptionally hard to make sure we are prepared and ready to vaccinate patients as quickly and safely as possible, as we develop more local vaccination sites.
This vaccination programme is the biggest in NHS history and needs to be carefully managed to make sure we get it right for everyone. Please be assured that those in the identified priority groups will be contacted when the time is right – there is no need to contact your local GP surgery or hospital. All your questions will be answered when you come for your vaccination appointment.
As plans progress across Somerset, the public have an important part to play to help:
• please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you;
• when we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments;
• and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives
Where will the vaccine be administered?
Yeovil District Hospital
On 9 December, the Somerset-wide COVID-19 vaccination programme for those in the highest priority groups, began at Yeovil Hospital, as part of the initial wave of 50 hospital hubs providing the first vaccinations across the country.
People from the most vulnerable groups which includes patients aged 80 and above, who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, and care home staff who look after some of the most vulnerable people in Somerset were the very first to be vaccinated. Any appointments not used for the initial groups at the hospital will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
More hospitals will start vaccinating over the coming weeks and months as the programme develops.
Community GP-led sites and care homes
On 14 December the first wave of community GP-led sites started inviting the highest priority groups, including over-80s and health and care staff to be vaccinated.
The first four vaccination sites to be launched in Somerset were; Taunton Vale Healthcare, Taunton; The Mulberry Centre, Berrow; West Mendip Community Hospital, Glastonbury; and The Gateway Centre in Yeovil. These initial GP-led sites have been developed by primary care networks (groups of local GP practices) who have been working closely together to develop detailed plans to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations in community locations. Read more
The second wave of vaccination sites confirmed included; Frome Medical Practice, Minehead Community Hospital and the Henhayes Community Centre, in Crewkerne. Read more
In the third wave between Christmas and New Year, teams of vaccinators are preparing to vaccinate care home residents and staff. At the same time, two more GP-led community sites will begin vaccinating people aged over 80 and health and care staff at the Shape Centre, Mendip District Council offices in Shepton Mallet and North Petherton Rugby Club. Read more
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I’m planning to temporarily live away from my Somerset GP?
If you think you may be living away from your local GP for an extended period, we would suggest you register as a temporary patient in your new area. You will then be contacted by the new practice once the relevant phase of the vaccination for you is reached.
You can register as a temporary resident if you plan to live near the GP surgery for up to 3 months. After 3 months you will have to apply to register with that surgery as a permanent resident. You can register temporarily with a GP surgery while away from home for work, study or on holiday. You’ll remain registered with your permanent GP surgery. The temporary GP surgery will pass details of any treatment you have to your permanent GP surgery. They will add the information to your medical records. Read more
Patient information leaflets
‘A guide for adults’ leaflet explains about the COVID-19 vaccination, who is eligible and who needs to have the vaccine to protect them from Coronavirus.
What to expect after your Covid-19 vaccination
Read this leaflet developed by Public Health England which answers the following questions:
- What are the side effects?
- Can I catch COVID-19 from the vaccine?
- Can I go back to normal activities after having my vaccine?
- What do I do next?
- What should I do if I am not well when it is my next appointment?
- Will the vaccine protect me?
- Can I give COVID-19 to anyone, now I have had the vaccine?
More information on the vaccine
You may be keen to know more about the approved vaccine and its development. Public Health England will be providing detailed information on the vaccine. However, in the meantime the following information should be useful.
- Statement from the MHRA about the review process for Pfizer vaccine
- Green Book – provisional guidance – Provisional guidance has just been added to the Green Book, which has the latest information on vaccines and vaccination procedures in the UK.
- Vaccine Knowledge Project website – This website provides independent information about how vaccines are tested, licensed and monitored and meets the World Health Organisation’s criteria for providing high quality information.