COVID-19 Information for patients
You need to self isolate if you have any of the following symptoms;
New continuous cough
A temperature of 37.8 or above
A loss/change of sense of smell or taste
Please do not attend the practice if you suspect you may have COVID-19 infection, either because you have symptoms (cough, fever, loss of taste or smell), have tested positive for COVID-19, or if you have been in contact with someone who has suspected COVID-19 infection or tested positive for COVID-19. If you need medical assistance whilst you suspect you may have COVID-19 infection please ensure you inform the receptionist, doctor or nurse by telephone that you are potentially infectious.
Patients suffering from possible COVID-19 infection cannot be seen at the Health Centre due to the risk to staff and other patients. Instead they will be provided with an appointment at the nearest 'Hot Hub' where fully protected medical staff will be better placed to assess patients.
Following extensive trials, the first safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in the UK and are now available to priority groups.
Vaccinations are being delivered according to priority groups identified by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The vaccinations may not take place at your GP practice, but rather a local vaccination service (led by GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists) who are responsible for delivering the vaccine to people in your community.
When it is the right time for you to receive your vaccination, you will receive an invitation to come forward. This may be via the phone, or through a letter either from your GP or the national booking system.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact us to get an appointment as you will not be able to get one until you are contacted.
- We understand that people are anxious to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. However, please don’t contact your GP practice, local hospital or council to seek a COVID-19 vaccine appointment – appointments cannot be made in this way.
- More COVID-19 vaccination services will be available every week and you will be contacted by NHS England when it’s the right time to come forward. If you’re eligible for a vaccine, but are yet to be contacted, please remain patient, you will not be missed.
- This is just the beginning of the largest vaccination programme the country has ever seen and we will make sure that the people who need it most (and those that care for them) are able to access the vaccine in a safe way with the least delay.
- When you are invited for a vaccine, please act on your invite and make sure you attend appointments when you arrange them.
- Please also continue to wear a face covering and follow social distancing and hand hygiene guidance as, until a vaccine has been fully rolled out, this is the most effective way to reduce transmission of the virus and help save lives.
COVID-19 vaccination programme
NHS England has devised a list of nine high-priority groups, which cover about a quarter of the UK population, and represents up to 99% of those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 infection.
- Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
- 80 year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers
- 75 year-olds and over
- 70 year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable (shielding) individuals
- 65 year-olds and over
- 16 to 64 year-olds with serious underlying health conditions
- 60 year-olds and over
- 55 year-olds and over
- 50 year-olds and over
People aged 50 and all clinically extremely vulnerable patients aged 16 and over are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination. NHS England is contacting people as they become eligible, starting with those considered most vulnerable, but if you are in an eligible group you can find your nearest vaccination site and book an appointment through the national online booking service by clicking here.
The practice is only able to offer vaccinations to patients in group 6, and groups 1-4 at present. Our vaccination clinics are held at Congleton Town Hall alongside the other GP practices in Congleton - together we form a Primary Care Network. The aim is to vaccinate as many people in the high risk groups as quickly as possible but because the supply of vaccine is unpredictable it is not possible to arrange clinics more than a few days ahead. Clinic dates are added as soon as we have guaranteed delivery dates for vaccine, but all patients in the highest risk groups have now been offered their first vaccine dose. Patients are notified by text when they become eligible for vaccination - the message includes a link to enable booking of an appointment. Please ensure we have your mobile number and ensure we have permission to send text messages to you. Patients without mobile numbers will be contacted by phone or letter.
COVID-19 vaccine information
The first COVID-19 vaccine, licenced in mid-December 2020, was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and was used to start the world's first COVID-19 vaccination programme before Christmas. The most vulnerable patients have been targeted first. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has the limitation that it has to be stored at extremely low temperatures, less than minus 70 degrees Celsius, which requires specialist cold storage facilities. Once defrosted the vaccine has to be used within five days. This makes it impractical for use in GP surgeries, but NHS England has overcome this by arranging for the defrosted vaccine to be delivered to designated vaccination centres, large enough to enable all the vaccine to be within the tight time frame to avoid any wastage. Each vaccination centre covers a number of practices - Holmes Chapel Health Centre and the three Congleton practices in our Primary Care Network use Congleton Town Hall as our vaccination centre.
A second vaccine, developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, was made available from 4/1/21. This vaccine does not require storage at such extreme low temperatures, and supplies of this vaccine has been made available to practices and community nursing staff to administer to care home residents and housebound patients.
More vaccines are being licensed for use, developed by Moderna, Novavax and Janssen, and more in the pipeline from Valneva and GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi-Pasteur. The government has placed huge orders for all vaccines, so that there should be plenty available for everyone in the country to receive a vaccine over the coming months.
Supply and demand
Demand for vaccine is high, and supply to the clinics is erratic. In order to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible clinics are planned as quickly as delivery of vaccine is confirmed, and this is often at short notice. There is understandably a very high demand for appointments and the booking centre is very busy, particularly in the hours following the announcement of new appointment dates. We apologise if you have to wait longer than desirable when trying to book a vaccination appointment. Unfortunately this is outside our control but you will be answered eventually. Please be assured, all eligible patients will be offered a COVID-19 vaccination, and further appointments will be made available over the coming weeks.
The speed of vaccination is hampered by the availability of vaccines, but certainly not by the efforts of health care staff and volunteers who are giving up hours of their time to ensure any vaccine that is made available to them is administered as quickly as possible. All patients in care and residential homes and all housebound patients have received their first vaccine dose. All patients aged 80 and over and shielding clinically extremely vulnerable patients have either had or been offered their first vaccine dose, and patients aged 70 and over are now being offered their first vaccine dose.
In order to beat COVID-19 and return to normal it is important we all have the vaccine as soon as it is made available to us. Please try to book the first available appointment as soon as you become eligible for vaccination. Do not be tempted to wait in the hope that appointments may be made available at the practice as this is not planned, and delaying will place you at risk for longer than is necessary. All vaccinations will be provided at Congleton Town Hall, or one of the mass vaccination centres. The purpose of the vaccine is not only to protect individuals, but also to reduce the impact of COVID-19 infection on our hospitals. Delaying your vaccination increases the risk to you, but also increases the risk of the NHS being overloaded - and that affects everyone.