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Vaccination has started – are our parents good to go?

UK vaccination programme

Keeping up-to-date with Covid 19 vaccination progress isn’t easy. These are a selection of stories that I’ve posted on Facebook today, plus a few more. My aim is help you see through the fug of different news for different people as well as the rumour and misinformation that always abound. Hope it helps.

Have we been missed out?

While the media is reporting excitement at how far the vaccination programme has progressed, it is important to understand that it’s actually progressing at different speeds across the country. So while it sounds like we’ve reached the over 70s everywhere, it’s not actually so, and in some areas we’re only just getting to the over 90s.

Here’s an edited version of the message that arrived in my inbox today from my local council, and it’s likely the message is the same everywhere in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are administering their own programmes.

The vaccination programme in this area scaled up considerably this week, which means significantly more people can be vaccinated – people aged over 70, health and care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

When it’s your turn to be vaccinated you will either receive a letter from NHS England or you will be contacted by your GP Network. Please do not contact your GP practice or the wider NHS to seek a vaccine, the NHS or your GP will contact you (if you haven’t heard yet, they haven’t forgotten you).

  • If you are contacted by NHS England, you will be asked to make an appointment at a larger vaccination centre which is located up to 45 minutes from your home.
  • If you are contacted by your GP Network, you will be invited to a smaller vaccination centre, which could be a number of places – depending on your location.

All vaccination sites will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning, disinfecting and socially distanced waiting areas. When you are contacted please attend your booked appointment wearing a face covering.

Those who have had their vaccinations also report that you should take a record of medications taken, and any allergies.

Can I get together with my parents now?

Exciting as it may be to have finally received a jab, it looks like we need to temper our enthusiasm to resume normal life for some time yet.

For one thing, the vaccinations are designed to happen in two stages to be most effective. So if your parent has only had one jab, they are not truly protected.

A study just released – and admittedly so hot off the press that it hasn’t reviewed yet – suggests that the first vaccination is not as effective as hoped. And that maybe the decision in the UK to delay the second one could be a mistake. Even if these numbers aren’t quite right either, it does underline the need to ‘manage expectations’, and not think that getting that first jab means we can all get together again very soon.

What about getting back into care homes for visits?

According to a government announcement on 21 January, two-thirds of care home residents have received their first vaccination.

But again, it’s still going to be a while before normal life resumes. While care homes are high on the priority list, the logistics of getting the vaccinations into the homes is tricky, especially when extra-low temperatures need to maintained for the vaccines. With the arrival of new vaccines, that situation is improving.

Care home managers are caught between trying to protect their vulnerable residents against Covid-19 and acknowledging that being separated from family is mentally unhealthy for their charges. With the plague of the virus again spreading through homes, it’s likely that they will continue to err on the side of caution. In some cases that means pod and window visits will still be allowed, but the way the guidelines are being interpreted vary from home to home.

How do I understand what’s happening with vaccination more easily?

Here I would like to give a plug to BBC Radio 4’s ‘How to Vaccinate the World’, with Tim Harford. Tim talks about Covid-19 to scientists and others proficient in their field, who explain the numbers and the science in terms that I mostly understand. It’s on right now, at 9.00am on a Wednesday, but you can catch up using the BBC Sounds app.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich from Pexels

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