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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.”

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.

Virtual September Board – round up

Members of the public were invited to take part in West Essex CCGs September Board virtually, in a meeting chaired by Dr Rob Gerlis.

The committee officially welcomed its new attendee, Cllr John Moran, Essex County Council’s Deputy Cabinet Member responsible for health and social care. Cllr Moran joined the Board recently after the sad loss of long serving Board member, Cllr Terry Cutmore, who remains much missed.

Rob said: “We formally welcome John today but also remember Cllr Terry Cutmore, who served on the Board with us for a number of years and who sadly passed away this year.”

The meeting was also shown a moving video featuring a 10-year-old mental health ambassador who spoke about her own experiences in a bid to raise awareness.

Chloe, whose sister was born with NFI (Neurofibromatosis) type 1, was referred for play therapy and talked about how she had become a young ambassador for Essex Healthwatch following a relapse of her condition brought on by the recent challenges of COVID-19.

The video is available to watch online.

The effect of the pandemic on mental health formed a large part of discussions at the meeting, which also focused on a report produced by Essex County Council about the challenges which may face people in months ahead, including the increasing risk of health inequalities.

The Board also reflected on how the past few months had affected patients, staff and those working within the health and social care sectors, with Board clinicians relaying their experiences and the impact on colleagues delivering a variety of roles in practices.

Members discussed the on-going plans for the new building for the Princess Alexandra Hospital receiving feedback and questions from the public.

It heard sickness rates among staff are currently low and there are plans to bring in mandatory unconscious bias training. Focus was also directed on the mental health of the workforce, including developing the role of mental health first aiders.

The ways in which the CCG is continually working together with other stakeholders, including District Councils and the County Council to have a more integrated approach to healthcare, was also shared.

The Board meeting in public will next take place on Thursday 26 November, 2020.  The Board papers and joining details will be shared on the West Essex CCG website closer to the date.

Concerned about Coronavirus? COVID-19 advice from West Essex CCG

Concerned about Coronavirus? COVID-19 advice from West Essex CCG

 

As we enter the winter months there will be many questions about common dilemmas facing people concerned about COVID-19.

Subjects tackled include advice on how to tell the difference between the symptoms of a cold and COVID-19, what to do if you can’t get a test, and sources of support and help if you have symptoms or need to self-isolate.

Rob Gerlis, Chair of West Essex CCG who is also a GP in Harlow, said: “It is understandable that people are concerned about COVID-19, what to do if they get it and protecting themselves, their family and friends from the disease, particularly now that children have gone back to school.

“We hope this Q&A will help residents across west Essex be more clear on what to do to keep themselves safe, understand the difference between a cold and COVID-19 symptoms and when they should get a test and when not to.”

The comprehensive, easy to read information will appear on the websites of local health organisations, be promoted on social media and will be shared with organisations across the county.  The advice will be updated as required.

 

Concerned about Coronavirus? Your questions answered

The coronavirus and protecting yourself from it

How can I protect myself from the virus?

The best ways we know to protect ourselves are by; washing your hands regularly or using sanitiser if there’s no soap and water, keeping your distance from people whenever possible, wearing a face covering where required or advised, and being alert to potential coronavirus symptoms in ourselves and others.


What are the most common symptoms of coronavirus?

Typical coronavirus symptoms are: a high temperature; a new continuous cough; or a change to or loss of sense of taste of smell.  A high temperature or fever is usually considered to be a temperature of 38C or above. See https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/ for more details about coronavirus symptoms.

If you don’t have a thermometer you can usually tell if someone has a high temperature if they:

  • feel hotter than usual to touch on their forehead, back or stomach
  • feel sweaty or clammy
  • have flushed cheeks

How can I tell if I have coronavirus or a cold? 

If you are not sure whether you or your child’s symptoms suggest that they have coronavirus or an everyday cough or cold, you can consult this online NHS symptom checker, which has been designed to help you to tell the difference. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/

Children often pick up colds and bugs after returning to school, but a runny nose or sore throat are not associated with COVID-19.

Testing

I think I need a coronavirus test.  How can I get one?

If you have any of the coronavirus symptoms, try to arrange a test straight away.  If you can access the internet, go to https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.  Do not try to book a test if you haven’t got symptoms. Tests are only for those with symptoms and you would be making it harder for people with symptoms to get the test they need.

What if I can’t get online? 

If you can’t get online, or have trouble using websites, you can try the telephone test booking number, which is 119. However, the telephone service doesn’t have access to any more tests than the online booking system. If there are no appointments online, calling 119 will not help.

I have symptoms but I haven’t been able to get a test. What should I do?

We know that many people all over the country are having problems booking a test and we understand how frustrating this is. Do keep trying, as new testing slots are added regularly during the day. 

Can I get a test from my GP, hospital or by turning up to a test site and joining the queue?

No.  The only way for members of the public to get a test anywhere is to use the booking service.  Your GP does not have any COVID tests and they cannot diagnose COVID-19 in an appointment.  Going to a GP practice with symptoms endangers others and could cause the practice to close. Hospitals only have a very limited number of tests for patients about to have planned treatments, or waiting to be discharged from hospital – you can’t get a test in an A&E department.  If you turn up at a testing site without an appointment, staff cannot and will not test you. 

I haven’t been able to get a COVID test, but I have symptoms.  What should I do?

If you have COVID symptoms but haven’t been able to get a test within 5 days of your symptoms developing, you should act as if you have the virus and follow the self-isolation guidance.  You must not leave your home for 10 days and anyone in your household or support bubble who hasn’t got symptoms must stay at home too, for 14 days.  This is in case they go on to develop symptoms as well. If people in your household go on to develop symptoms, they should try to get a test too.  Detailed government advice on staying at home can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection  If you need to get food or other essential supplies during your isolation, please ask a friend or a family member who doesn’t live with you to get them for you.  

How can I look after myself if I have COVID-19, or the symptoms of the virus?

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover, using the advice on the NHS website:  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/how-to-treat-symptoms-at-home/

If your symptoms get worse and you are worried, go to https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 . If you don’t have access to the internet, you can ring NHS 111.  If you have a long-term health condition and you are worried about the impact of your coronavirus symptoms on your health, contact your GP surgery online or on the phone.

 

Children and coronavirus

My child doesn’t have symptoms but has been sent home from school because someone in their school ‘bubble’ has coronavirus. What should I do?

Our schools, colleges and early years settings are working hard to try to ensure that pupils and staff are protected and to stop the virus spreading.   This means that children in the same group, class, or year as someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus are being asked to self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms.  Although this is tough on children and families, this should slow down the rate at which the virus is spreading in our area.  Here’s what self-isolation means for a child or young person and their household members:

  • Self-isolation means they must not leave their home for 14 days because they might have been exposed to Covid-19. It can take 14 days for symptoms to develop
  • Your child(ren) should not leave the house and cannot visit family, friends or attend any activities or parties, even if these are outdoors. They cannot go out to exercise, use public transport or taxis, even if they wear a mask.
  • Being sent home does not mean that your child(ren) has coronavirus and you should not book a test for your child(ren), unless they develop symptoms
  • Other members of your household will not be expected to self-isolate due to child(ren) being sent home in a school bubble unless the child develops symptoms, in which case the rules on testing and self-isolation apply above.

 

Isolation

My employer has asked me to get an isolation note. How can I get one?

If you have been asked to get an isolation note from your employer, go to https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19.  There is no need to call your GP and you must not visit your GP practice.

My child has a runny nose. Do I need a doctor’s note to say they can attend school?

Children often have runny noses.  You do not need a note from your doctor to send your child to school if they have a sniffle, and your doctor will not provide one if you ask.

How will I manage if I have to isolate?

If you are worried about how you will manage with shopping, getting prescriptions or managing financially when you are isolating, go to this website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-and-treatment/help-and-financial-support-while-youre-self-isolating/

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