I know how anxious people are at the moment about accessing the vaccine as quickly as they can and so this was a great opportunity to ask some of the questions that you have been raising. I have to say, I came away from the meeting feeling very reassured and thankful for all of the work that is going on behind the scenes to keep us all safe. Following the meeting, our NHS colleagues also issued us with an update that we have forwarded onto our communities and have made available on our website, which can be found here: pdf icon COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Chichester District [409kb]

Some people believe that we are responsible for the roll out of the vaccine and where vaccination centres are located. This is not the case. Along with our partners, we have put forward sites for the NHS to consider. They have each been closely assessed and in the end local GPs have decided which locations would be most suitable. There has been quite a lot of false information and confusion on this point and so I thought it would be worth explaining this.

There are a number of ways the vaccine is being rolled out: GP-led vaccination services; hospital hubs; roving services and large vaccination centres. Last week, our local hospital hub at St Richard's Hospital started vaccinating people over the age of 80 who are attending planned appointments, as well as frontline health and care staff. However, most people in the district will start to access their vaccination through a GP led vaccination service. Some of our residents in the North started to access this service through the Pulborough GP-led vaccination site last week, and this week the Selsey and Tangmere sites will start vaccinating people in the South of the district. In addition, the Riverbank Medical Surgery in Midhurst will provide a further centre for the residents in the North of the district in the coming weeks.

The way in which GP-led vaccination services are delivered has been agreed at a national level with each area typically allocated one GP-led site. We are very lucky in this area that we will have four GP-led vaccination sites, two that are in the north of the district and two that are in the south. This is to ensure that the vaccination can be given to as many people as quickly as possible.

It's worth remembering, that up until recently, we only had the Pfizer vaccine, which has significant requirements in terms of movement and storage. This meant that vaccination centres had to be carefully chosen, so that the vaccines could be stored effectively and given to as many people as possible. Now that we have the Oxford vaccine, this will change things moving forward, and even more sites should be able to administer it. However, I would urge everyone to be patient. This is a really complex situation and is the biggest vaccination programme this country has ever seen. Our colleagues in the NHS are working really hard to rollout the vaccine as quickly as they can - and things are changing all of the time. At the end of last week, yet another vaccine 'Moderna' - was approved for use, which is great news. So, our role is to wait patiently to be contacted.

I know that for some people, it may be difficult to travel to their vaccine appointment and I want to reassure you that the NHS is looking at how these people can be supported. It is important to note that attending a vaccine appointment is an acceptable reason to leave the house during lockdown, including accepting a lift or accessing community transport.

The most important thing that we must all remember is not to contact our GP surgery about this. They will contact us when it is our time to receive the vaccine. Initially, this is being done by phone, but alternative arrangements will be made for anyone who is not able to speak on the telephone. There is also a clear priority list, to vaccinate those who are most vulnerable first.

For more information on the vaccination programme, you can visit: Sussex COVID-19 vaccination programme FAQs It's also worth signing up for our email newsletter which provides you with the latest local updates in the district.

Our colleagues at the NHS have promised to meet with us regularly to update us on their progress, and so I will continue to keep you informed in the weeks ahead. I would also like to thank all of our NHS workers for everything they are doing for us and for all of their hard work on this vital vaccination programme. It is appreciated more than you will ever know.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council