The NHS in Hertfordshire and west Essex is saying a heartfelt ‘thank you’ as it celebrates the first anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in the area. Dr Rachel Joyce, a senior doctor and director of clinical services said:
“It has been a year like no other, in which the NHS has delivered more than 2.5 million vaccinations in Hertfordshire and west Essex alone. Thanks to the AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, we have saved lives, protected residents from severe illness, and spared many thousands of families from the distress and disruption that COVID can bring. Through heatwaves, snow and lockdowns, the staff and volunteers working on the COVID vaccination programme have maintained their relentless commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities. The expansion of the booster scheme this week means that we are re-doubling our efforts.
“We’re now vaccinating a wider range of people in more venues than ever before. From schoolchildren to great-grandparents, in schools, shopping centres, council offices, GP surgeries and pharmacies – the campaign rolls on. If you are eligible for a first, second or booster vaccination - even if you’ve never taken up your offer before - there will always be a warm welcome for you in venues across our area.”
This week, the booster vaccination programme widened to enable everyone aged 40 or over who had their second vaccination at least three months ago to book or walk-in to have their booster jab.
In our area, this means that more than 100,000 additional people will soon be able to join the 460,000 who have already topped up their immunity levels with a booster dose. People aged over 40 who had their second vaccination at least two months ago can go online or ring 119 to get their booster jab booked in – but will have to wait until three months have passed before they get their vaccinations. Some people aged under 40 can already have a booster – if they work in a front-line health or social care role, are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 because of their own health, or to protect a close relative’s health for example.
Check out your eligibility for a vaccination, find a walk-in clinic, or find out how to book your next vaccine on the Healthier Future website.
Vaccination capacity is being stepped up to help to meet the demand for booster doses. The new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, is expected to spread quickly and the added immunity that booster jabs offer will help to protect people against serious illness and death.
Thirty community pharmacies are already offering vaccinations in Hertfordshire and west Essex and this number is due to more than double over the weeks to come. Groups of GP practices are working together to vaccinate their patients and many have committed to increasing the number of vaccines they deliver. Large vaccination centres are extending their opening hours and our hospitals are lending their staff to the vaccination effort too.
Dr Joyce commented: “Successfully vaccinating our population requires a huge team effort – with the support and commitment of the public, volunteers, NHS staff, councils, partner organisations and a huge logistical and planning effort to make it work. We’re already protecting around 60,000 people a week and we’re planning to increase that number to around 90,000 every week by the end of January.”
Over the next few weeks, people aged under 40 will start to be invited to have their booster vaccinations too. If you are registered with a GP in England, you will be contacted directly. If you are not a registered patient – check online for details of walk-in clinics you can visit when it’s your turn.