Across South West London we have now delivered over 280,000 vaccinations, including 272,000 first doses, hitting the ambitious target of offering the vaccine to our priority groups 1- 4 by Monday 15 February 2021 and exceeding the numbers expected. GPs and their practice teams, local volunteers, and NHS staff have vaccinated over a quarter of a million people in just 10 weeks in our primary care sites, our hospital hubs, community pharmacies and our large vaccination centres. We owe this success to a true team effort across South West London in primary care, NHS provider trusts, community care services, pharmacy teams, local authorities and the care sector, and the fantastic support from local volunteers, who have all played a part in immunising so many people.
We have now moved on to the next groups of residents to offer the vaccine to cohorts 5 and 6, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. People in cohort 5 aged 65-69, will receive a letter from the national booking service, and they can book an appointment at one of our large vaccination sites or community pharmacy services. GPs will be inviting cohort 6, which includes people aged 16-64 with underlying health conditions which make them more vulnerable to serious illness from Covid-19. Cohort 6 also includes those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill. Carers must have their status logged on their GP record to be offered a vaccination. These groups should wait to be contacted by the NHS to book their vaccination appointment.
More people in South West London and across the country are being asked to shield against coronavirus following the development of a new national Covid risk assessment. People who have now been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable will shortly receive a letter from the NHS telling them to begin shielding until at least 31 March. People who are already shielding will also receive an updated letter from the NHS telling them to extend shielding to 31 March. Previously, shielding has been based on health conditions and age, but the new method also takes account of factors including ethnicity, homelessness, deprivation, age, and body mass index. Those within this group who are over 70 will have already been invited for a vaccination, those who are 19 and 69 years will now be prioritised for a vaccination and will be contacted as soon as possible for a vaccine, if they have not already been invited. People who have been identified in this new shielded group do not need to proactively contact the NHS to arrange a vaccine.
A core part of the programme as we move through the cohorts will be to keep working closely with local authorities and community partners to ensure up to date information is available for local people around how the vaccination works and how safe it is. Through conversations with health and care staff, local leaders and the wider community we can help to ensure that even more people can feel confident to accept the vaccine when it is offered to them. This is crucial to address the concerns that some parts of our population across South West London are expressing and will continue to be an absolute focus.