'We haven't forgotten you' - patients reassured over vaccine roll-out
- Credit: Ian Burt
Health bosses have penned an open letter to patients across Norfolk and Waveney, reassuring them over the progress of the coronavirus vaccine roll-out.
The letter, published by Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (NWCCG), seeks to provide reassurance to patients, relatives and carers in the area.
Aimed at people over the age of 50, the message hails a "great start" to the vaccination programme - but emphasises the long road ahead.
Those in priority groups who have not yet been administered their first jabs are told they have not been "forgotten".
The letter reads: "We are writing to provide information and reassurance to patients, relatives, and carers across Norfolk and Waveney.
"This is the largest vaccination programme ever delivered by the NHS and it will take months to complete but, thanks to the hard work of our local NHS staff and volunteers, we have made a great start.
"We know that some people in priority groups for vaccination are still waiting for their appointment, and we are working incredibly hard to roll out the vaccine to those most at risk as soon as we possibly can.
"If this is you, we haven’t forgotten about you."
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There is also a reminder for people to refrain from contacting their surgery, and instead wait patiently to receive a phone call, text or appointment letter.
"Please do not contact your GP," the letter continues. "You will get an appointment for a vaccine, it will just take a few weeks before we are able to contact everyone.
"We are asking people to be patient and wait for their invitation as health services are incredibly busy at the moment and we are not able to answer enquiries about the vaccine programme."
The note goes on to outline the programme's top priority groups, which include everyone over the age of 70, frontline health and social care workers, care home residents, and adults deemed extremely clinically vulnerable.
Readers are reminded of the different vaccination venues, with 29 now dotted across Norfolk and Waveney.
Thus far, jabs are being given out at the area's three main hospitals, 21 GP-led hubs, three large-scale vaccine centres and a single community pharmacy.
A further large site is set to go live in North Walsham on Saturday.
The letter goes on to urge those given appointments to ensure they turn up, for both first and second doses which are a maximum of 12 weeks apart.
Patients must not arrive more than 10 minutes beforehand, should have their NHS number or appointment letters with them, and wear practical clothing so it is easy to access the upper arm.
Speaking after it was revealed almost a quarter of people in Norfolk and Waveney have had at least one dose of the vaccine, Melanie Craig, chief executive of the CCG, , said there was "still a long way to go".
She added: "We have made considerable progress in just a few weeks of this vaccination programme being launched.
"We still have a long way to go in our fight against this disease and we would urge people not to drop their guard once they have had the vaccine.
"We still don’t yet know whether the Covid-19 vaccine prevents you passing the virus on to others, so once you’ve had the vaccine it’s still really important that you continue to follow the guidelines.
"Wash your hands, cover your face and keep your distance from people."
The CCG's letter also reminds people that both doses of the vaccine are needed to achieve protection, and that full protection is not shown until around three weeks after the second dose.
Even then, recipients may still be at risk of carrying the virus and passing it on to others, meaning official guidelines should still be adhered to.
Finally, readers are alerted to scam emails and texts purporting to be from the NHS, often offering vaccines for a fee.
These should be ignored as all jabs are being administered on the NHS free of charge.