Hailsham Town Council has not been directly involved in the coordination of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. However, we have been discussing this issue with the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and our local county councillors. Of course, we share your concern that the residents of Hailsham are given equal access to the vaccination programme.
The situation appears to be evolving as it progresses, however the latest information we have is that:
- The centres for distribution are nationally determined with the decision outsourced to the UK national Joint Vaccination & Immunisation Committee
- The priority is to get the top five vulnerable groups vaccinated as early as possible. This obviously would prioritise our local residents in those categories
- The absence of a named Hailsham surgery at the outset should NOT be taken as suggesting that the town’s vulnerable are not prioritised. It is possible that capacity to store the Pfizer vaccine may be a factor in the initial choice of surgeries
- The reason we do not have a hub in Hailsham is because there is no surgery able to store the Pfizer vaccine, which has to be stored at a very low temperature. We do know that people from Hailsham are being vaccinated at the Meads Medical Centre in Uckfield – many of our over 80’s have already had the vaccination
- It is suspected that it will be less of an issue with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine going forward. Once the more recently approved vaccine (which doesn’t have to be stored any differently than the flu vaccine) is available to GPs, then it should be available locally
East Sussex County Council are pressing central government hard for a local plan and have offered to help execute it. An NHS briefing for county councillorstook place on 15th January and the following update has been provided:
- Sussex has around 480k people to vaccinate. Around 100k have received a first dose to-date; mainly of the Pfizer vaccine as the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine has only been available nationally for 11 days at the time of the briefing.
- Rother & Hailsham local vaccine delivery has been constrained partly by challenges to store the Pfizer vaccine locally as aforementioned.
- Sussex NHS Commissioners have recently agreed a GP-led plan with local practices for Hailsham delivery of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine.
- Residents will be contacted by their local surgery when it is time for them to be vaccinated.
- The local NHS are working on the basis of vaccine supply in the week commencing 18th January with initial rollout a couple of days later. This is obviously dependant on national vaccine delivery.
The main source of information regarding the COVID-19 vaccination programme remains the NHS and the CCG themselves, however please rest assured that we will continue to liaise with them and our partner local councils to obtain up-to-date information.
The statement we have received from Sussex NHS Commissioners is as follows:
It is important to share that the NHS is contacting people when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. Please do not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
More information about the vaccination programme in Sussex, including answers to common questions and links to a number of helpful leaflets, is available at: https://www.sussexhealthandcare.uk/keepsussexsafe/sussex-covid-19-vaccination-programme/
The vaccination programme will be expanding over the coming weeks and months as more vaccine becomes available. This will include:
- More hospital hubs
- More GP-led local vaccination services
- Establishing larger vaccination centres
- A roving service to take the vaccine into care homes and people’s own homes if they cannot attend a vaccination site.
A priority in the NHS planning is to ensure that it is as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated when it is their turn.
A full list of sites is available here: https://www.sussexhealthandcare.uk/keepsussexsafe/sussex-covid-19-vaccination-programme/covid-19-vaccination-sites/ and this will continue to be updated as more sites become live.