Start your year as you mean to go on

Start your year as you mean to go on

Make getting your booster your New Year's resolution.

The local NHS is urging everyone who hasn’t had their booster – or hasn’t started their COVID vaccinations yet – to make getting the jab their New Year’s resolution.

Get yourself the best belated Christmas gift: protection from getting sick with COVID: 

The websites are updated daily and throughout most days so please keep checking back for more appointments and walk in locations.

Dr Rachel Joyce, Director of Clinical and Professional Services at Herts and West Essex Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We’re asking all those who have been putting off getting their booster to make the most of this special time of year to get jabbed.

"The wonderful staff and volunteers at our vaccination sites are ready and waiting to boost your immunity to COVID so you can start the new year with the maximum protection possible.

“The vast majority of those currently in hospital with serious complications from COVID are unvaccinated.

All of our sites offer first and second doses as well as boosters – it’s not too late to catch up.

Getting a vaccine is the single biggest step you can take in protecting yourself, your family and friends from COVID.

“Infection rates are still high and the more of us that get fully vaccinated the more chance we have of getting back to normal quickly and reducing the pressure on our hospitals”.

Dr Joyce added: “Let’s start 2022 with the best New Year’s resolution and the one you can achieve now – getting vaccinated to protect ourselves, and our family and friends.”

A reminder of those who are eligible for the COVID vaccine, and should now come forward:

  • Anyone aged 18 or over, who had their second dose more than 12 weeks ago can get a booster by booking an appointment or going to an advertised walk-in clinic
  • Anyone over 18 who has not yet had any vaccine, can book an appointment or go to one of our walk-in clinics
  • 12-15 year olds can now get their second vaccination three months after their first dose via a booked appointment or at a walk-in clinic
  • Immunocompromised patients are now eligible for a fourth vaccine dose three months after their third dose and will be contacted by their GP practice or can book an appointment or walk- in if three months has already passed.
  • Pregnant women can book an appointment or walk in without an appointment at any vaccination site for a first, second or booster dose. Please make yourself known to staff on site and you will be ‘fast tracked’.

For more information and questions and answers about COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccination programme in Hertfordshire and west Essex, visit the Healthier Futures website. For media queries, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ring 01707 685140.

Jo’s treat bags brings joy to NHS staff in Epping

Jo’s treat bags brings joy to NHS staff in Epping

Jo Middleton, a receptionist at the Limes Medical Practice in Waltham Abbey has been creating treat bags for the vaccinators and staff at the vaccination centre at St Margaret’s Hospital. The bags – filled with cakes, sandwiches, biscuits, and other treats – are funded by donations following the death of her dad from Coronavirus on 3 January.

Jo says that the death of her father, Ken, came as a shock to all of them and the family wanted to do something in his memory.

Ken, 78, who also lived in Waltham Abbey, was very popular and a great character. They weren’t able to give him a big send-off and all his friends and family wanted to donate to a good cause following his death.

Jo explains: “We didn’t want Dad to be a Covid statistic. He was a dad, grandad, great-granddad, partner, and brother. He was adored and we wanted him to be remembered in some way. I saw first -hand how hard the vaccinators are working and how they are doing their best to reassure people.

“We thought a little bag of treats would give them a real boost as they carry on vaccinating the community.”

Jo has already delivered two loads of treats and has enough money donated to deliver at least 10 more batches. She says that everyone has been ‘delighted’ to receive their treat bags.

She concludes: “We’ve had a horrible time with many losses over the last few weeks and I think this helped give us a sense of purpose.  I am so pleased we can give something back to the community and I am sure my dad would have be very proud.”

New COVID-19 vaccination centre opens in Harlow

New COVID-19 vaccination centre opens in Harlow

Tuesday 26 January 

Essex and Hertfordshire residents aged 75 and over are amongst those being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone, one 32 new NHS vaccination centres that open this week in England.

The first seven large-scale centres, which can vaccinate thousands of people a week, opened two weeks ago with another ten opening last week. The latest openings mean there will be a network of almost 50 across the country.

People aged 75 and over are being invited to book a vaccination at these centres or at one of more than 70 pharmacy services now operating across the country. If someone cannot or does not want to travel to a vaccination centre, they can still wait to have their vaccination at a local GP service or hospital hub. As well as the vaccination centres and pharmacy vaccination services, there are now more than 1,000 GP services and over 250 hospital sites offering vaccinations in England.

Health and social care staff working nearby will also be able to receive their vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone.

The vaccination centre at Harlow Leisurezone is being run by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), drawing on its proven track record of delivering local immunisation programmes in the area. HCT has set the centre up with the support of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Harlow Council, the Essex Local Resilience Forum and local volunteers.

HCT’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Sarah Browne, said: “Everyone at HCT and in our partner organisations has been working very hard in the lead up to opening the centre today. We can now welcome local people in the prioritised age groups with confirmed appointments to receive their vaccine, along with health and social care workers from across our area. This represents a big step forward in helping to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. My sincere thanks go to our project team and our school age immunisation team who are working around the clock to deliver this programme.”

Dr Rob Gerlis, Harlow GP and Chair of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The launch of Harlow Leisurezone as a vaccination centre is great news for people across West Essex and the surrounding area. We now have seven sites – five GP-led sites, one at Princess Alexandra Hospital and now Harlow Leisurezone - where patients and health and care staff can be vaccinated. As time goes on, people will have greater choice of where to be vaccinated.

“We would like to say a big thank you to all NHS staff, volunteers and partners who have worked so hard, and continue to work hard, to set up these sites and ensure they run smoothly.”

Raymond Spicer, 75, was among the first to be vaccinated at Harlow’s Leisurezone which was opened earlier this week.

He had travelled just minutes to get his jab, with his daughter Louise who explained Raymond has been isolating throughout the pandemic due to receiving treatment for a rare form of blood cancer.

He said getting the, simple and quick inoculation, would give them peace of mind in coming weeks and he hoped his daughter, his registered carer, would also receive hers soon.

“I found the experience very quick and easy and I am just very glad I have had the first one now.”

Ruth MacKay, 79, of Harlow said: “I am very pleased and feel really encouraged to have had my vaccine.

“I can’t understand why people don’t want to have it. It’s wonderful here at the Leisurezone, so well organised.”

Ruth’s husband Brian, 85, had his vaccination at Lister Medical Centre in Harlow several weeks ago.

Baden Clegg, 77, had come from Epping with his wife, Claire, who was also receiving her vaccine.

Claire, 77, said: “I can’t explain how important it was for us to get the vaccine.

“Life has been put on hold and we are just so fed up with just seeing the grandchildren on Zoom all the time. We miss them very much.

“Our younger son lives with us and he had Covid over Christmas. It was very difficult managing that situation so the vaccinations should make things easier. We are hoping to get our lives back.”

Baden said he would urge everyone to have the vaccine when invited to.

“We have the flu one every winter and so it was just like having an extra one of those.

“I barely knew they had done it,” said Baden.

He explained the couple’s son had been very unwell after contracting Coronavirus before Christmas and urged people to get vaccinated when they could.

Thousands of people have already received their vaccines across west Essex as part of the programme, beginning with the over 80s late last year. Advice to continue washing your hands, keeping your distance and covering your face where possible remains, even if you have been vaccinated.

People should only attend for a vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone if they have received a letter inviting them to book a vaccination and have already booked an appointment. Anyone attending for a vaccine appointment at the Leisurezone is asked to arrive just before the time of their appointment to avoid the need to wait to be seen and to help us maintain social distancing at the vaccination centre.


COVID-19 vaccinations being offered by our GPs

COVID-19 vaccinations being offered by our GPs

Updated 21 December

Hundreds of residents aged 80 and over receive their first COVID-19 immunisation at a vaccination centre near their homes.

GP-led local vaccination centres are beginning to open their doors in Hertfordshire and west Essex, with more to follow in the coming weeks.

In line with national guidance and to protect those who are the most as risk first, the vaccine is initially being offered in the community to people aged over 80.  GP practices are working through their patient lists and will contact people when it is their turn to be vaccinated. 

Dr Jane Halpin, the Chief Executive of our area’s three GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups said:

“The amount of work that has gone into preparing for the biggest ever vaccination programme in the history of the NHS cannot be overestimated.  The work undertaken by Primary Care – our GP practice staff - has been simply remarkable.  In addition, our district and county council colleagues, the police and the wider family of NHS organisations have been involved in supporting a number of the community vaccination sites, helping to bring the vaccine into local communities in a safe and secure way.

“I would like to thank everyone who is continuing to play their part in helping to protect our communities from the virus.”

Getting the vaccine to all those in the priority groups will take a number of months.  We can all play our part to assist the vaccination programme by:

  • waiting to be contacted by the NHS – you will be invited to an appointment when it is your turn. Remember the NHS will never ask you to pay for a COVID-19 vaccination
  • attending both of your booked appointments
  • continuing to follow all the guidance to control the spread of the virus and save lives. This means hand-washing thoroughly and regularly, wearing a face covering in line with guidance, unless you are exempt and maintaining social distancing.

Everyone who is vaccinated will need a booster jab after 21 days. It takes a few weeks after getting the second dose for the person’s antibodies to reach their optimum level.

In the West Essex CCG area, vaccination centres which have been confirmed as opening this week include: Lord Butler Leisure Centre in Saffron Walden, St Margaret’s Hospital site in Epping, Lister Medical Centre in Harlow and Stansted Surgery in Stansted Mountfitchet,

Lord Butler Leisure Centre - Saffron Walden

Dora Hunter, 88, was the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination in her home town of Saffron Walden.

As a former nurse herself, Dora had nothing but praise for the NHS – adding it was a huge honour to get the programme started.

She said: “It was something I hoped I would get, the vaccine, but I was surprised to be invited so early and obviously honoured to be the first.

“This year hasn’t been too bad for me, I am in a place where there are other people but we haven’t been able to mix too much so this will hopefully give us that back.”

Dora, said the process had been quick and simple, like having her annual flu jab and encouraged others to follow in her footsteps when invited.

“I think the majority of people I have spoken to are going to have it done.”

Beckie Reynolds, Uttlesford Contract Manager said   “It was a pleasure to host the vaccination programme over the weekend. There’s no denying the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on us all, so we were thrilled to be able to play our part, together with the local council and NHS to deliver vaccinations to the people of North Uttlesford. By working together, we can beat this.”

St Margaret’s Hospital site – Epping

Derek Berwin, 88, Epping: “COVID has been such an inconvenience. I am very pleased to be getting this vaccine. I wasn’t expecting it so soon! The NHS has done everything to keep us safe and now I will be spending Christmas with my daughter.”

Frank Binder, 85, Moreton, was due to have his vaccine. His wife Marianne said: “We have been in isolation since February and haven’t dared go out anywhere. Our daughter lives down the road from us and she can’t come to see us with the grandchildren. If they were to come round it would be a burden on them because it would put them on edge.

“Now once the Frank has had the vaccine and the rest of the family get it we will all feel better and no-one will have to panic.”

Lister Medical Centre - Harlow

Bessie Cowdery, 90, from Harlow, was the first person to receive the vaccine at the GP site in Harlow.

Bessie said: “I was nervous but it was fine, like a flu jab, and I am just really looking forward now to getting back to seeing my family who I have barely seen this year.”

“I was delighted to be one of the first to be invited in, and I would tell people there is nothing to be scared of and to just go for it.”

Michael Yarrow, 80, said: “It all went so smoothly. Bearing in mind it was the first day I was pleasantly surprised I had gone in and had the vaccine within ten minutes.

“It was all very well organised.”

Margaret Simkins, 84, and husband Ron, 85, from Church Langley said they too were impressed with how soon they had been called in and at how simple the booking process had been.

“We got a message inviting us and within ten minutes of each other and the appointments had been made soon after.

“It was great we could come in together.”

Dr Jey Selvarajah, GP partner at the Lister Surgery and clinical director of the Harlow South Primary Care Partnership said it had been an excellent start to the programme.

He said: “It is a great opportunity for our population in Harlow to get their freedom back, to give them the chance to spend Christmas with their family next year.

He said initial take up had been good and thanked colleagues across the CCG for their dedication and hard work in putting the programme together in such a short space of time.

The CCG has worked with a range of partners including local authorities and the voluntary sector in getting the vaccination programme up and running. This includes Voluntary Action Epping Forest, Rainbow Services in Harlow and CVSU in Uttlesford who have supported the sites with the recruitment of volunteers.

Rob Gerlis, Chair of West Essex CCG, said: “We have waited a long time for this vaccine and after a lot of hard work and effort by staff, voluntary sector colleagues, local authorities and partners, it’s finally here and up and running. It gives us all something to cheer about.

“It’s been encouraging to see so many people taking up the offer of a vaccine. Patients have been incredibly excited to get the vaccine and appreciative of the hard work put in by so many people to make it happen.

“Huge thanks go to everyone for making this happen and run so well from day one!”

The vaccine is safe and effective for the vast majority of people – it has been tested on thousands of people and assessed by experts. You can find out more about the vaccine and how it works by reading the information from Public Health England which is available on this website: https://westessexccg.nhs.uk/your-health/coronavirus-covid-19

View photos of residents receiving their first COVID-19 immunisation at vaccination centres across west Essex.

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