More than 4300 Island residents over the age of 80 are to be invited to come forward for a vaccination to protect themselves from the effects of Covid-19.
Letters will be sent to the over-80s at their home address from today (8 January), along with an information leaflet explaining what is involved in having a vaccination and the vital role the vaccination programme plays in the fight against the pandemic. A separate process is in place to arrange vaccinations for those aged over 80 who live in a care or nursing home.
Residents are asked to respond swiftly to the letter so that they can register initially. Only those who are able to make their own way to Noble’s are invited to register at this point, and further information will be sent to those who need support with travel or who are housebound.
After registering, individuals are asked to await their appointment call, which may come several weeks later in line with the delivery of vaccines to the Island and the roll-out programme. Appointments will be released and filled on a rolling basis, sometimes at short notice, in order to avoid wastage of vaccine and to maximise the health benefits for older and vulnerable people.
Two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine given 21 days apart are needed for optimum protection, and both vaccinations will be booked for patients in their appointment call. Vaccinations are currently given at Ward 20, the hub created on the Newlands site at Noble’s Hospital, where PPE and social distancing protocols are in place. Parking is available nearby and patients are directed to the reception desk when they arrive.
Letters will be dispatched in batches to the over-80 age group over the course of 7 to 10 days, so no one should worry if their friend or neighbour receives a vaccination letter and they haven’t - as it is on the way. Patients should not call 111 unless they have received a letter or if they are unable to make their own way to Noble’s at this time.
Minister for Health and Social Care David Ashford said:
‘We have looked forward to a time when vaccines could protect the most vulnerable members of our community, and that stage has now been reached. I urge everyone invited to register for a vaccination to do so, as the more people we have vaccinated, the greater our ability to fight back against Covid. The emergence of a new, more transmissible coronavirus variant makes getting a vaccination all the more important.
‘Our professional team takes pride in offering a first class service - they are greeting, treating and caring for patients from the moment they arrive until their departure, and feedback has been excellent. The over 80s will be well looked after and any queries answered by the team.
Raising a current concern, the Minister concluded:
‘I urge people not to ask for a vaccination before they are invited. This is the biggest mass vaccination programme we have ever undertaken and we will manage it in an orderly way, taking each priority group in turn. Please don’t try to circumvent this process. Our teams are working flat out to deliver the programme and callers seeking to go up the priority list are hindering this urgent work.’
The over-80s are the second priority group to be offered the Covid vaccine, following the successful roll-out to health and care staff from across the Island which began on 4 January. It is anticipated the majority of the first three priorities groups will have had both vaccinations by early March, subject to the delivery of vaccine to the Island per the schedule from the UK Government. This includes vaccinating care home residents, with plans for this group well underway.
Priority groups will be contacted as set out by the independent advisory body the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). As the risk of mortality increases with age, prioritisation is primarily based on age and the JCVI’s priority list identifies groups in descending age order.
The time frame for vaccination of these groups is dependent on vaccine being made available and delivered to the Island with the programme schedule from January to September 2021.
An array of information about the vaccination programme is available on the government website at www.gov.im/covidvaccination including links to detailed information about the different vaccines, the authorisation and approval process they have undergone, and an extensive listing of Frequently Asked Questions covering diverse queries and concerns.
Members of the public with queries are urged to visit the website in the first instance where there is a wealth of information available, or to contact their GP practice for any clinical advice in relation to their own circumstances. Please do not phone the 111 line, which is currently dealing with a high volume of calls to arrange appointments for the current vaccination priority group.