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Frequently Asked Questions about the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme in Hertsmere – Updated 12th March

I had my first vaccination in January at my GP-led vaccination centre but don’t have my second date yet. Who should I call?

Please don’t call anyone. You will be invited back to the same place you went to receive your first dose, about 12 weeks after you had the first jab.

Please be aware there are some weeks when we are not receiving as much supply of the vaccine as we would like, and we know this has led to some frustration and concern. We do liaise with our colleagues in the NHS locally to try to get more vaccine stock into our centre, but the supplies are controlled nationally and this means we can’t always offer as many vaccine appointments as we want to. 

We are expecting the supply to increase considerably from the middle of March so we hope to be able to call in many more people after that – for their first and their second doses, and in line with national guidance about priority groups. Please be assured that nobody who is due a second dose will have to wait longer than 12 weeks for it.

For more information on the vaccine programme in this area, you can use this link https://www.healthierfuture.org.uk/covid

Remember that you aren’t fully vaccinated until after the second dose. Getting the second jab is as important as getting the first.

I have a long term health condition, and I’ve heard that this means I get the vaccine next. Is this true?

People with some long-term health conditions, or those receiving some treatments, are known as ‘clinically at risk’, which means they have a higher risk of being seriously ill if they catch COVID-19. Please note that these conditions are different (and generally less severe) than the list of conditions that require people who are ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to shield. If you are in this clinically at risk category and have not yet had the vaccine you will be invited to get your first jab from now onwards. We will contact you to have this done at a local GP-led vaccination centre.

Please note that the list of conditions is tightly defined: it isn’t a question of how unwell you are, or how your condition affects you, but only how much risk of serious illness from COVID-19 your condition puts you in. The conditions included in this list is set nationally, by the joint committee on vaccinations and immunisations (JCVI) and your GP has very little discretion in terms of which patients will come under this category.   We have to follow this JCVI guidance when we vaccinate our patients and cannot move you onto the list of people with underlying health conditions unless there has been a mistake in your medical records. 

The summary list of conditions is:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness

I am pregnant or breastfeeding. Can I receive the vaccine?

If you are breastfeeding, you can receive the vaccine

If you are pregnant, think you might be pregnant, or trying to conceive, you should not normally receive the vaccine.

The only exception to this is if you also have an underlying health condition that puts you at high risk of complications of coronavirus infection, or if you work somewhere where you at high risk of getting coronavirus such as a hospital or care home facility. Please discuss with a GP or your employer if this is the case.

I care for a relative – can I get the vaccination?

If you are aged 16 and over and support an adult who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, you should now get your vaccination.  Carers of children are not included in this phase, apart from Carers of children who have serious neuro-disabilities and other complications.

You don’t need to wait to be contacted if you are registered to receive a Carer’s Allowance.   You can book an appointment now via the national booking service www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.

The national booking service allows you to arrange an appointment at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy-led service.  Call 119 if you don’t have the internet. You can choose a time slot and location that suits you.

If it isn’t possible for you to attend any of the vaccination centres offered through the national booking service, then wait for us to contact you, and we will offer you an appointment at our GP-led vaccination centre instead.

If you do not receive Carer’s Allowance, but you are registered with us at your GP practice as an unpaid carer, we will contact you to arrange your vaccination.

If you consider that you are a Carer for someone who is at high risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and with whom you have close personal or face to face contact, but you do not receive Carers Allowance and are not known to your GP as a Carer, please complete the online carer registration form.

The NHS is working closely with social care services colleagues and organisations that represent Carers to put in place arrangements to offer the vaccine as soon as possible to other Carers who will be eligible to receive a vaccine but don’t meet the current criteria in terms of the two categories mentioned above.    For example, if you are known to be a Carer by social services or Carers in Herts, you will be contacted directly by the NHS in the coming weeks. For other Carers who are not known by social services or other organisations, we will provide information for you and share this as widely as possible – do look out for more information. 

I have recently had coronavirus, or think I might have developed coronavirus before my vaccination. What should I do?

Please do not attend for your vaccination if you have any symptoms that might be due to coronavirus:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Loss or change of sense of smell

Attending a vaccination centre with those symptoms is putting other people at risk.

You should not have the vaccine within 4 weeks of any coronavirus symptoms, within 4 weeks of testing positive for coronavirus even if you had no symptoms or if you are awaiting the result of a coronavirus test.

I’ve just received a letter telling me I need to shield – it’s the first I’ve had. What should I do?

People with certain conditions are considered to be at high risk, or ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’, to the health risks posed by COVID-19.  As a result, they are advised to shield at home. More information is available here; shielding people should stay home and avoid contact with anyone outside their bubble if at all possible. Many people received letters about this back in the spring of 2020 and have had ongoing updates.

Based on evidence, more people are now known to be at high risk from COVID-19, so more people are now receiving these letters. Shielding can be hard, so support is available – there’s information in the link above. People who are shielding are also a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccine: you should shortly hear from your GP to make an appointment, but you can go ahead and book a vaccination through the national booking system by visiting www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by calling 119 if you don’t have the internet.

I have received a text message asking me to book an appointment. Is this a scam?

As the COVID-19 Vaccination programme moves on to new age groups, the National Booking Service have said they will send a text message service for COVID-19 vaccination invitations and reminders, in addition to the letters that are currently sent to eligible people.

People receiving these text messages will be invited to book online at nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119, for an appointment at a local Vaccination Centre or pharmacy-led site. The text message will be sent using the Government’s secure Notify service. They will appear as being sent from NHSvaccine. These text messages are in addition to those which are currently being used by some hospitals and local GP-led vaccination services.

Once I have received my vaccine, can I socialise with others who have also been vaccinated?

This is a really important question. Vaccination protects the community. It may not protect every single individual. A small number of people will not be protected by the vaccine, and we don’t know who this will be. We also don’t yet know if the vaccine stops you passing on coronavirus. It is of the utmost importance that even after you and your loved ones have received the vaccine, that you continue to follow the guidance for social distancing and any other restrictions that are in place. Once the community infection rates fall, then restrictions will start to be lifted.

If your question has not been answered by any of the above, please contact us via the website.

Further details about the vaccination programme can be found on the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group website.