Covid Update

What You Need to Know

The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.

Already, more than 165,000 vaccines have been delivered in Northumberland. The next phase of the vaccine programme is to invite priority groups five to nine, which is everybody over 50 years of age, by 15 April 2021.

The two priority groups in this phase that are currently being invited to have a vaccine are group 5, those aged over 65, and group 6, those aged between 16 and 64 with long term health conditions.

This phase will also include delivering second doses of the vaccine to the most vulnerable groups who were vaccinated during December and January.

People in group 5 will have received a letter inviting them to go to a large vaccination centre for their Covid-19 vaccination and are being asked to book an appointment via a national booking system.

However, if those in group 5 will find it difficult to get to a large vaccination centre, they can wait and have their vaccine locally. They should ignore the invitation to book via the national booking system and wait for their GP practice to contact them. If you are in group 5 or 6 and have not heard from us yet, please give us a ring on any afternoon (this tend to be quieter time)

Please DO NOT turn up too early for your appointment and as we can’t choose which vaccine is delivered to us, you will not be able to choose which vaccine you receive on the day.

Please can also we remind people not to contact their GP asking for an appointment.

We appreciate that it may take longer to wait for an appointment locally rather than travel to one of the larger centres, but be assured you will not be missed.

 

FAQs

Who can get vaccine?

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from an independent group of experts (Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation).

It is currently being offered to:

  • people aged 50 or over
  • people at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • eligible frontline health or social care workers
  • people who have a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
  • people with a learning disability
  • people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus

Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK.

This poster shows the priority groups in order of priority.

How will I get the vaccine?

People are being personally invited to get their vaccine in priority groups. You will receive an invitation to come forward either by phone, text, through a letter from your GP practice or the national booking system.

Northumberland’s GP practices are working together in Primary Care Networks to vaccinate patients, so you might not be contacted by your usual practice, and you might need to go to a different location for the vaccination itself – you will be told where to attend when you are invited. When you have had your vaccination you will be told when you will need to go back for your second dose.

People should turn up at their appointment time, not earlier, and depending on the brand of vaccination you receive, you may need to wait at the practice for 15 minutes after being give the vaccine to ensure you do not have any adverse reaction.

Why do I have to wait for my vaccine?

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but people most at risk from the complications of COVID-19 are being offered the vaccine first. The programme is limited by the amount of vaccines that are supplied. You will be called in as soon as there is enough vaccine available.

The next phase of the vaccine programme is to invite priority groups five to nine, which is everybody over 50 years of age, by 15 April 2021. This phase will also include delivering second doses of the vaccine to the most vulnerable groups who were vaccinated during December and January.

The two priority groups in this phase are group 5, those aged over 65, and group 6, those aged between 16 and 64 with long term health conditions. People in group 5 will receive a letter inviting them to go to a large vaccination centre for their COVID-19 vaccination and are being asked to book an appointment online via the national booking system or by phoning 119. Those in group 5 will be invited to the closest national centre with available appointments.

If those in group 5 find it difficult to get to a large vaccination centre, they can wait and have their vaccine locally. They should ignore this invitation to book via the national booking system and wait for their GP practice to contact them. It will take longer to wait for an appointment locally rather than travel to one of the larger centres, but you will not be missed.

Download the guidance explaining why you have to wait your turn.

Why is my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being delayed?

We understand that some people who have had the first dose are both keen and anxious to get their second dose as soon as possible to ensure maximum protection from the virus, and that the delay is not what you were expecting.

As of 11 January, the NHS is now following new guidance from the Government’s expert advisors which says that prioritising a first dose for as many people as possible will save more lives.

This is because even with just one dose the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been estimated to offer 89% effectiveness from two weeks after it is given and the Oxford/AstraZeneca has been estimated to offer 74% effectiveness from two weeks after it is given.

There is scientific evidence that clearly shows vaccinated individuals get almost complete protection after their first dose. Simply put, every time we vaccinate someone a second time, we are not vaccinating someone else for the first time. It means we are missing an opportunity to greatly reduce the chances of the most vulnerable people getting severely ill from COVID-19. For example, if a family has two elderly grandparents and there are two vaccines available, it is better to give both 89% than to give one 95% protection with two quick doses, and the other grandparent no protection at all.

The NHS ambition, if supplies allow, is to have offered vaccines to the most vulnerable people by the middle of February. Therefore, as a key part of the national effort to protect as many people in at-risk groups as quickly as possible, booster doses will now be delivered within 12 weeks of the first dose. Your GP practice will be in touch to reschedule your second dose as soon as possible.

Travel arrangements

The vaccines may not take place at your GP practice, but rather at a local vaccination centre (led by GPs practice nurses and community pharmacists). The vaccination is currently being rolled out from ten sites across Northumberland.  Please note that the vaccination centre you are asked to attend may not be the one closest to your home so make plans for how you will get to the centre when you are asked to attend, including plans for travel at different times of the day.

If you need help travelling to your allocated vaccination centre you will be asked this when making an appointment and your GP practice who will be able to provide you with details of how to arrange transport solutions.

Booster Vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It’s given as two doses.

People will receive their second dose 12 weeks after the first. This means that many more people can now receive the first dose of the vaccine quicker.

Avoiding fraud

To protect yourself and your family members from fraud and criminals, remember the following points:

  • The vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups, and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime.
  • The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and never ask for payment or for your bank details.
  • At the moment we are also not making house calls to deliver or discuss the vaccine. Anyone offering this now is committing a crime.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.

COVID-19 vaccination registration for health and social care workers

Front line health and social care workers are included as a priority group for vaccination.

The majority have been offered vaccination appointments via their employer – if you are employed please check with your manager about how to have your vaccine.

There is also a group of front line workers who are self employed such as personal assistants working under personal health budgets, or chiropodists, physios etc.

If you fall into a self-employed category you can register for a vaccination.

Please note that you will need to provide some identification (such as a letter, ID badge) to show you are a front line worker and ID checks are in place at vaccination sites.

You can book at one of the large vaccination centres at Newcastle’s Centre for Life or the

Nightingale Sunderland. Or you can provide your contact details and we will contact you with a local vaccination service.

Face-to-face appointments

We are taking all the necessary steps to protect you and our staff from coronavirus. Robust measures are in place to ensure that practices are safe. This includes the installation of social distancing signage, reception screens, one-way systems, hand sanitising stations and use of PPE.

Your temperature may be taken on arrival and you will also need to sanitise your hands. Please be aware that the surgery doors may be locked and you will need to be granted access by a member of the practice team. There will be less people in the waiting room than usual and chairs are positioned apart from each other to ensure you can observe social distancing.

We would appreciate your co-operation in ensuring you do observe social distancing while in the surgery. We have clear signage to guide you. You are asked to wear a face covering if you need to attend the surgery in person.

Please also be mindful that, at times, our workforce may be affected by COVID-19, so our team may be smaller than usual. We are, however, all doing our very best to look after you. We ask you to be patient, polite and respectful. No type of abuse will be tolerated by any member of our GP practice team.

If you have any coronavirus symptoms including a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste please DO NOT come to the surgery. You must stay at home along with anyone you live with and anyone in your support bubble. Only leave home to get a test. Self-isolate until you get your result.

We are here for urgent medical needs

Please don’t delay in contacting us if you have an urgent medical need. We are here for you and your family.

You can also get urgent medical advice online from 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111. For life-threatening emergencies please call 999 or go straight to A&E.

Further information is available here.

 

Some useful links to information about shielding, face coverings, self-isolation, testing and staying safe outside your home:

Vaccine specific links

  • Book a COVID-19 vaccination at one of the national vaccine centres:
  • NHS COVID-19 vaccine information:
  • Find out where you are in the UK Covid vaccine queue calculator:
  • Priority groups:
  • COVID-19 vaccine side effects:

Published: May 19, 2021