I'm pleased to say that our NHS colleagues are currently on course to meet the targets set by Government. As of last Friday, 90.4% of the over 80s in the North of the district and 75% of the over 80s in the South of the district had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Many more vaccinations were already booked in over the weekend and beyond and so these percentages will be even higher by the time you read this.

We've received quite a lot of questions about vaccine deliveries and so I thought it would be worth touching on this point. Vaccine deliveries occur each week at each GP-led vaccination site. This is co-ordinated nationally by NHS England. Once they know when they will get vaccine, the sites can then determine their opening hours and days. As a result, at the moment it is not unusual that sites are only open for certain days of the week or weekend.

Some people have also asked why some large vaccination sites seem to have unlimited supplies, while others receive smaller amounts. Although it may appear this way, the volume sent to each site is based on their capacity and needs. We have been assured that there are no issues on supplies for the district. The good news is that the vast majority of people are turning up for their vaccinations and all sites are referring to their reserve lists when this doesn't happen.

Conversations are ongoing about introducing a new site in the centre of Chichester. Our NHS colleagues are exploring a number of sites, and the final decision will be agreed with NHS England. They believe that they are very close to resolving this and are hopeful that a decision will be made on this over the next week. If given the go-ahead, they believe that a central site can be opened rapidly. We will obviously let you know as soon as we receive an update on this. It's also worth noting that we are placing all of the NHS stakeholder updates and our own updates from the meetings we are having here: Coronavirus support for residents. We are also sharing regular updates on our social media sites and within our email newsletter, which you can sign up to at news alerts.

The NHS has to ensure there are the staff requirements for the site and this is one of most important elements being agreed. When identifying suitable sites, the NHS has to meet certain criteria. This includes: digital access, flooring, floor space, the potential flow of people in and out of the site, availability of parking, location in terms of traffic building up and space for staff. They also need to consider the volume of vaccinations that can take place at a centre.

It's also worth letting you know that if you are aged over 70, you may receive a letter from the national booking system inviting you to attend one of the large vaccination sites within 60 miles of your home, or one of the approved pharmacies (in our case, this is in Midhurst). There has been some confusion around this. It's really important to note that you do not have to accept this invitation, and you can wait for your GP-led vaccination centre to contact you. This is an extra opportunity to access the vaccine, providing you with the option of accessing your vaccination quicker if you want to. If you decide to ignore the letter, there is no need to worry as you will still be contacted by your local GP-led vaccination service.

What you can be assured of is that our NHS colleagues are working really hard to deliver the vaccine programme as quickly as they can and I would like to thank them for everything that they are doing. I would also like to thank all of the volunteers supporting this effort. You are all superstars! In fact, we discovered this week that one of our home grown international superstars, Hugh Bonneville, has even become a volunteer at the Midhurst site, which was lovely to see. Thank you to all of you! 

I know how anxious people are to receive the vaccine, which is totally understandable, and a number of you have written to me with your concerns. I want you to know that we are raising these issues with our NHS colleagues each week and are trying to provide you with as much information as we possibly can. I would encourage you, if you haven't already, to sign up to our email newsletter so that you are totally up to date with information from both our area, as well as the national guidance.

Please stay safe and keep well.

Best Wishes

 

Cllr Eileen Lintill

Leader of Chichester District Council