Over 300,000 people vaccinated in Hertfordshire and west Essex as vaccine roll-out continues - here's everything you need to know

Latest NHS figures were released on Thursday, February 18

Friday, 19th February 2021, 5:32 pm
Updated Friday, 19th February 2021, 6:34 pm

From a church hall and a theatre, to a football ground and a night club, COVID vaccination sites across Hertfordshire and west Essex have opened their doors to more than 300,000 people since December.

Latest figures, released on Thursday, February 18, show that 322,286 people in Hertfordshire and west Essex have received their first dose of the vaccine in one of over 40 vaccination sites in the area, either at GP-run sites, large vaccination centres, pharmacies or hospital hubs.

So far, a total of 180,866 (95%) of people aged 70 and over have received their first dose, alongside tens of thousands of health and care workers and patients who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

Benedicta Ajulufoh - HCT immunisation nurse with patient at Robertson House

All care homes for older people have been visited by vaccination teams and those who are housebound have been contacted and offered the vaccine at home.

NHS data shows 132,800 people in the Herts Valley clinical commissioning group area had received their first jab by February 14, as figures at a CCG level were released for the first time.

Of those, 70,998 were aged 70 or over ­– equating to 95% of the population in that age group, according to the latest estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Read: Here's how many people have now had Covid vaccines in Hertfordshire.Across the vaccination programme, there are many examples of collaboration – turning halls, offices, sports and entertainment venues into vaccination sites, along with innovative ideas to protect the most vulnerable.

These include:

- A drive-through vaccine service at Batchwood night club in St Albans, enabling clinically extremely vulnerable people who have not left their homes for many months to get their vaccinations without leaving their vehicles

- More than 3,500 signed-up volunteers helping with roles from car park marshalling to admin support

- Special clinics for people with learning disabilities, offering longer appointments and more support

- Firefighters, council staff, police officers and St John’s Ambulance staff supporting vaccination sites

- Furloughed easyJet airline staff trained in basic life support, working as healthcare assistants to support clinical staff at vaccine sites.

Anyone aged 70 or over, those people who are classed as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and front line health and social care staff who have not yet had their first COVID vaccination, are being asked to contact the NHS to book their jab.

They can do this through the national booking system or by calling 119 if they are unable to go online.

If a suitable and convenient slot is not available, they can call their GP practice for an appointment at their local GP-led site instead.

While NHS teams continue to vaccinate any remaining people in the top four groups, more people will now be offered the vaccine.

The next stage includes anyone aged 65 to 69 and people with a specified underlying health condition.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has set out the list of people with underlying health conditions as follows:

> Chronic respiratory disease

> Chronic heart disease and vascular disease

> Chronic kidney disease

> Chronic liver disease

> Chronic neurological disease, including severe or profound learning disability

> Diabetes mellitus

> Immunosuppression

> Asplenia or dysfunction of the spleen

> Morbid obesity

> Severe mental illness.

In addition, people who are caring for those at high risk from Covid-19, such as elderly or disabled people, will be offered the vaccine. More information about carers’ access to the vaccine will be coming out soon.

Health and care organisations are working on a range of initiatives to encourage anyone who may be hesitant about the vaccine to come forward for their jab.

As well as outreach work in the community, there are information campaigns, webinars and interviews with faith leaders, staff and members of the public to help inform and reassure people about the safety of the vaccine. More information about the vaccination, including links to information in a variety of languages, can be found here.

Dr Jane Halpin, Chief Executive of the Hertfordshire and west Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups, thanked everyone involved.

She said: “We’re incredibly grateful for this immense team effort from everyone involved in the vaccine programme.

"In a short space of time, we’ve already protected hundreds of thousands of our most vulnerable residents.

"We’re looking forward to building on this success and giving the first dose to thousands more patients in the weeks and months ahead, as well as making sure that people get their second doses on time.”

In this next phase, GPs have been asked to offer jabs to people with underlying health conditions, while people aged 65 and over will in the first instance be invited to book a vaccination at one of the large vaccination centres.

If somebody aged 65 to 69 wants to be vaccinated at their local GP-led site, they can wait to be called by their local GP practice.

Anyone in Hertfordshire who has booked their COVID-19 vaccination but is unable to make their own transport arrangements can get help through a service that has been put in place by the East of England Ambulance Service, Hertfordshire County Council and local NHS clinical commissioning groups.

People can call 0300 790 6254 (Monday-Saturday, 9am-5pm) to ask for support to get to their appointment. However, people should only call this number once they have made their vaccination appointment. The service operates seven days a week.