Our path out of lockdown: What you need to know about Norfolk and Waveney's vaccine roll-out

Nurse draws off a single dose from a vial, which can provide 10 individual doses to patients, of the Oxford...

Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out in Norfolk and Waveney - Credit: PA

So, here we are again. 

A fresh nationwide lockdown which, to many, will seem like a step in the wrong direction in the context of the coronavirus crisis. 

Almost 10 months after the first, there has arisen an inescapable feeling of being back at square one. 

A single dose of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine being given to a patient.

Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out in Norfolk and Waveney - Credit: PA

What we have now, however, is a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of a vaccine, already given to hundreds of thousands of people across the country. 

And this week came there came another major milestone, as the cheaper, easier-to-transport Oxford-AstraZeneca jab began being rolled out. 

As we attempt to plot a route out of the pandemic, here's the key information surrounding Norfolk and Waveney's role in the vaccination programme. 

Where are vaccines being administered?

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The region's three main hospitals - Norfolk and Norwich (NNUH), Queen Elizabeth (QEH) in King's Lynn and James Paget (JPUH) in Gorleston - all have access to the vaccine.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Nick Butcher

NNUH was among the first 50 hospitals to administer the coronavirus vaccine - Credit: Nick Butcher

NNUH and JPUH were among the country's first 50 hospitals to administer the jab, in early December, before QEH joined the programme last week

As it stands, there are nine GP surgeries which have already been giving out vaccines, with more to follow.

They are: Cringleford Surgery, Fakenham Medical Practice, Falkland Surgery (Great Yarmouth), Kirkley Mill (Lowestoft), Lionwood Medical Practice (Norwich), St James Medical Practice (King's Lynn), Swanton Morley Surgery, Terrington St Johns Surgery and Thetford Healthy Living Centre.

However, constituencies that have no vaccination services include North Norfolk and Norwich North, which have populations of 87,596 and 90,083 respectively.

While those in the city face only a short drive to one of three nearby centres, people in Cromer would have to journey more than 20 miles to Fakenham.

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (NWCCG) said: "There are already a number of vaccination sites in Norfolk and Waveney, with more being introduced in the coming days and weeks - including sites in north Norfolk."

Which vaccines are being rolled out?

Two vaccines have thus far been approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK regulator. 

This means they have been found to be both safe and effective. 

The first, developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, has an efficacy of around 95pc, while Oxford-AstraZeneca's product is closer to 70pc. 

The government has ordered 40 million doses of the former and 100 million of the latter, enough to cover the entire population according to health secretary, Matt Hancock. 

A vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Coronavirus vaccines are being rolled out in Norfolk and Waveney - Credit: John Cairns/University of Oxford/PA Wire

While the Pfizer vaccine boasts a significantly higher efficacy, a major drawback is that it be kept at temperatures between -70 and -80C.

Meanwhile, the Oxford jab can be stored in a conventional fridge for up to six months, and is also much cheaper per dose. 

Who is eligible for a vaccine?

The message from NHS England, public health officials and the CCG is clear: do not attend your local surgery or hospital for a vaccine unless you have been contacted about an appointment.

This is being emphasised in Norfolk after a number of people arrived at JPUH on December 28 having read an inaccurate post on Facebook telling people they could simply turn up.

Gorleston's James Paget University Hospital. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

People turned up at JPUH in Gorleston without an appointment for a coronavirus vaccine - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

It will take many months to roll out the vaccine, although people most at risk from experiencing complications after contracting Covid-19 are being contacted first. 

That includes those aged 80 and above, care home residents and frontline health and care workers. 

Once these groups have been vaccinated, there will be a gradual move through older age groups, adults on the NHS shielding list and people under 65 with long-term conditions. 

Completion of phase one of the vaccination programme will see everyone aged 50 and over immunised.

The priority list has been developed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

How many people have been vaccinated in Norfolk and Waveney so far?

The exact figure for Norfolk remains unclear.

In Suffolk, the NHS said on Monday that 10,000 people had been vaccinated so far, but Norfolk and Waveney CCG said it wasn't able to provide the same data. 

In terms of how many are being vaccinated each day, the number is doubtless increasing as more doses become available. 

A spokesman for NWCCG said: “Rapid progress has been made across Norfolk and Waveney to vaccinate eligible patients; numbers continue to increase in line with vaccine supply.”

How long will it all take?

The burning question, and one that nobody truly knows the answer to. 

We are still in the embryonic stages of the vaccination programme, although official NHS England data shows several thousands of people have already received their first doses at NNUH. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a televised address to the nation from 10 Downing Street, London

Boris Johnson addressed the nation to announce another coronavirus lockdown - Credit: PA

In his address to the nation on Monday (December 4) evening, Boris Johnson said the UK had vaccinated "more people than in the rest of Europe combined". 

The prime minister added that, by mid-February, the NHS' "realistic expectation" is to have administered initial doses to elderly care home residents, care home workers, over-70s, frontline health and social care workers and all those deemed clinically vulnerable. 

No further details were given on how soon other groups may receive their jabs.

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