Healthcare news

65 and overs and clinically extremely vulnerable to get Covid-19 vaccine by end of February

The seven regional vaccination centres and GP practices will simultaneously vaccinate members of the public from prioritised groups
Maeve Connolly

People aged 65 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) will be offered the coronavirus vaccine by the end of February, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The department said the seven regional vaccination centres and GP practices would simultaneously administer inoculations to members of the public from prioritised groups.

GPs are completing the 80+ age group and moving on to the vaccination of those aged 70-79 plus people who are clinically vulnerable. Patients will be contacted by their practice and offered the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

Pfizer vaccines have been administered this week at the regional centres to CEV patients who regularly attend hospital and within the next week these health trust-run centres will be vaccinating people in the 65-69 age group with the Pfizer vaccine. Appointments can be made online and information on the booking system plus a telephone helpline will be available later this week.

Until recently these centres had exclusively vaccinated healthcare staff

Carers are expected to be offered vaccination in March.

The department said the roll out was "subject to the availability of vaccine supplies from manufacturers".

"To date the delivery schedule has in large part proceeded according to plan," it added.

The department said that by the end of February vaccination centres should have provided first dose Pfizer vaccines to those aged 65 and over as well as CEV patients and will start to offer second doses to health and social care staff who had their first Pfizer jab before Christmas.

To fall within the 65-69 age bracket you must have been born between April 1 1951 and March 31 1956.

"Under the current schedule, sufficient supplies of the Astra Zeneca vaccine will be available to ensure that GPs will be able to provide first dose vaccines in February to everyone in the 70-plus age bracket and make a significant contribution to vaccinating people who are CEV to Covid-19," the department added.

To date 186,112 vaccines have been administered, of which 163,317 were first doses and 22,795 were second doses.

Patricia Donnelly, head of the vaccination programme, asked people to wait for their GP practice to get in touch.

“Not all GPs can get through their priority lists at exactly the same speed. Patient populations are spread out differently, take-up rates can differ and other logistical challenges will undoubtedly arise.

“It may well be the case that someone a few years younger than you will get their jab a little bit earlier than you. Be assured that you won’t have long to wait for your turn.

“Don’t contact your GP practice – wait for them to contact you by text, phone or letter.

“Appointments in some cases may also have to be rescheduled – if vaccine supply schedules from England are altered at late notice. Your appointment will be rescheduled as quickly as possible.”

The department said care home vaccination work is in its final stages and that a "drop off in demand from health and social care staff" at regional centres had allowed trusts "to focus on the CEV vaccinations and to prepare for the repurposing of the centres for wider public use".

"Throughput will climb quickly when the bookings are open to 65-69-year-olds."

Read more: 16 further deaths as pressure remains on hospitals

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