Should I get the COVID Vaccine?

As we move to younger groups of patients, we are getting more questions regarding whether it would be a good idea to be vaccinated?

YES! 100% yes! Every member of our staff has been vaccinated.

  • COVID is very contagious – you will almost all get exposed in the next year or two.
  • Fatigue and breathlessness is common after COVID, even in previously fit and active people, its not just the risk of death.
  • There is very good safety data on the vaccines to show that any risks are much lower compared with the placebo group. “Real world” data in the UK has shown a dramatic fall in the overall death rate starting a few weeks after the vaccine.
  • After a vaccine you are unlikely to be unwell from COVID, almost certain to not need hospital treatment for COVID, much lower risk of spreading infection.
  • You will be protecting our community, making our area a safer place to live for everyone. Especially for those who dont have a strong immune system.

What about pregnant women or children? We are waiting to confirm that vaccination is safe, but we will vaccinate our children if this is recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). They are the best in their field, whose expert advice we trust.

Groups 1-9 first doses all done or booked.

We had 190 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine today, but as an unexpected bonus each 5mls vial contained 6mls of vaccine (12 doses not 10), meaning we actually had an extra 38 doses. We were warned these were definitely not going to be over-filled. We have therefore been making some last minute calls today to use all the vaccine and make sure none is wasted.

Almost every person aged 50+ or in an at risk group has now been offered a vaccine from the surgery, nearly 4 weeks ahead of schedule! What a great success.

We are told the next priority for vaccine will now be for completing the second doses before 12 weeks, and this is all fully on course. We will still be sending updates with just a short notice, when the supply of vaccine is confirmed.

This means there may be some weeks before those under 50 start getting invited, by the national booking system.

A big thank you for all your ongoing support (and patience as you await your turn).

Around 200 doses this Friday – nearly all over 50s may be invited.

We are sending out SMS invites for this Friday morning, working our way down the list based on age.

We dont yet know how many people have already booked an appointment through the central booking system (Westward Ho or Wadebridge) so when we invite you by SMS,  please reply to the message if possible. Hopefully this is enough to reach all those aged 50 and above, as we expect a lot of the groups aged over 57 already have booked appointments.

For information, our group sizes and numbers vaccinated are as follows

  • Age 60-64 158 (86 done, 72 remaining)
  • Age 55-59 208 (28 done, 180 remaining)
  • Age 50-54 150 (12 done, 138 remaining)

We are also advised of another 100 doses expected for next week, so we can be really confident of finishing all the first 9 “at risk” groups next week.

Updates on upcoming vaccine – speeding up!

We have requests asking when we may be able to offer vaccine to patients in their 50’s: we hope within the next 2 weeks as we have been promised a boost in vaccine supply after a “dry” couple of weeks.

This week we are not allowed to go beyong group 5 (aged 65-70) and group 6 (at risk). We are finshing all these groups Wednesday 10 March.

Next week we understand we will be able to use all available vaccine to start to “mop up” groups 7, 8 and 9. (ages 50-65). We will plan to move down ages, sending SMS invites to those aged 64, then 63, then 62 etc. As people confirm or decline a vaccine, we will re-use the slot until all our vaccine allowance is used, or we have completed all the groups.

We expect some people will have booked a vaccine elsewhere, but we hope anyone aged over 50 is likely to get a vaccine offer at Hartland within the next 2 weeks. But we cannot be 100% sure until the vaccine is waiting for collection from Barnstaple, we’ve been left waiting before.

We plan to invite by SMS message to your mobile as follows:

You are invited to have a COVID vaccine at Hartland surgery on <date> at <time>.

To confirm please reply YES.

If you want a call to discuss reply DISCUSS, if you have other arrangements reply OTHER, if you don’t want a vaccine reply NO. You can include more information if you choose, but a short message may be more helpful us.

If you dont respond within 2 hours, we will try to call you later

We hope this will allow us to organise larger numbers of vaccine in a quick and efficient manner.

Vaccine Delivery this last weekend

We have been notified more vaccine was delivered to Barnstaple at the weekend.

We hope this means another 63 doses we can use at Hartland and if confirmed we will use them this week, likely on Friday morning again.

As mentioned before, we have been “warned” to expect a surge in vaccine supply next week for a couple of weeks – so we hope things may speed up significantly to complete all priority groups down to aged 50. Most supply is still being directed to the vaccine centres in Westward Ho and Wadebridge and invitations sent by post, but we will use as much as we are allocated.

Current numbers:

  • 1st doses given 1038 (37% of our total patients)
  • Group 1: 0 (No nursing home patients)
  • Group 2: 183 (97%)
  • Group 3: 161 (97%)
  • Group 4: 223 (95%)
  • Group 5: 169 (76%)
  • Group 6: 161 (83%)

Vaccine forecast – quiet week ahead

We are waiting for the systems to update, but we managed to get 48 doses of Oxford vaccine this morning. (5 bottles with “eight doses”, but they are slightly overfilled and we used every drop).

We think we are just over 1000 doses given to our patients, but there are a unfortunately still a few of you in group 5 and 6 waiting for a dose.

We are told there is no more coming for at least a week, but as you know we will not hesitate if things change.

Longer term we have been told there will be a “surge” in vaccine for the second half of March, perhaps this will mainly be sent to hubs in Westward Ho! and Wadebridge again. The feedback has been excellent for these centres, so don’t hesitate if you get the invite. We will use whatever we are given.

We are also starting to invite for 12 week second doses shortly, so things are going to remain very busy.

Vaccines this Friday morning

Now 951 first doses of vaccine given (34%). What fantastic progress, alongside the really encouraging news about protection from serious illness being around 80% after the first dose alone. The second dose at 12 weeks will still be really important, especially for protection lasting into next winter.

We are now hoping to have enough vaccine this Friday morning to finish groups 5 (aged over 65) and group 6 (at risk aged 16-64).

We are checking our waiting list, and vaccine supply, and should be in touch with anyone waiting by late Thursday.

Group 7 (aged 60-64) should now be getting postal invites to visit Westward Ho! or Wadebridge.

We have been asked not to vaccinate beyond group 5 and 6 this week, to ensure all GP practices are able to catch up and no patients are left behind.

Hopefully that means we can do more next week, but it seems we (and many GP practices up and down the country) are being used to “mop up”, meaning we will always be catching up. There is some national guidance indicating an increased supply in vaccine in 2 weeks time (with less supply next week).

Another Stop / Start week

We have now hit 808 first doses, 29% of the practice.

This week we have no allocation of Oxford vaccine (for Hartland) and only a small number of slots for Pfizer vaccine at the hub in Barnstaple, which we have already booked. Unfortunately less Oxford vaccine was delivered to Barnstaple last thursday than planned (disrupting planned clinics for practices in Torrington and Bideford). We can only hope they might surprise us with extra vaccine later in the week!

We are therefore still catching up with group 5 (48 to go) and 6 (104 to go),  as well as eligible unpaid carers:

those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill

Still a little wait before groups 7 and 8 (aged 60+, then aged 55+).

Now up to 779 vaccinated, 29% percent of you!

We are very pleased to see our numbers climbing, with 779 recorded as having the first dose of vaccine so far. We managed to push ahead yesterday (Wednesday) as we were notified on Monday there was already available Oxford vaccine in Barnstaple for us to collect, we did 95 in the afternoon, with great work by our Exeter medical school students, Paul and Mo.

If you are aged 65+ (group 5) or have underlying health conditions (group 6), you should now be vaccinated or booked in within the next couple of days, let us know if you are still waiting for an appointment, by email if possible.

We are therefore hoping for a green light to move onto group 7 (aged 60-64) with 163 people and group 8 (aged 55-59) with 206 people from next week. We will update with more info when we have it.

Just a reminder, asthma is no longer an “underlying health condition” for COVID vaccine, since it appears to not increase your COVID risk, see news article here for more info, unlike for flu vaccine. You will still get offered a jab alongside your age-group.

Vaccine groups 5 and 6 next week, better invitation plan, patients with Asthma

Rather than the mad last couple of weeks, with GPs and pharmacy vaccine hubs both offering vaccines and contacting the same groups, we now have what sounds like a better plan.

Group 5 (aged 65-70) will be invited by post, to log an appointment online or by calling 119 – sending you to Westward Ho!, Wadebridge or Taunton. You can still choose to come to Hartland Surgery, send us an email to add to our waiting list for Friday – see below.

Group 6 (vulnerable people aged 16-64) will be invited by GP practices: we are using an SMS booking system so that we dont have to phone each person in turn. We will still ring if you dont book an appointment or dont have a mobile number in your record.

We expect around 170 Oxford Vaccine doses available next Friday 19 Feb. We have already invited around 70 people in group 6 to Barnstaple Leisure centre for the Pfizer jab next week. This means we may have “more” than we need to finish group 6, and can do some from group 5.

We will need to wait until the Oxford vaccines are delivered as planned next Thursday (we collect them from Barnstaple on Friday) before we can send you an invitation on Thursday afternoon for a busy Friday at the surgery, we will invite you mainly using SMS messages.

What if I am aged 65-70 and want to be vaccinated at Hartland?

We expect to be able to do around 50 people from this group at Hartland on Friday, so you can either ring us or even better send an email and we will add you to a waiting list. We will update this website when we have more information to confirm, or if we run out of vaccines for this Friday.

I have asthma and a flu jab each year, when will I have a COVID vaccine?

The guidance on at risk groups has quietly changed in January 2021. For most people with asthma, you are no longer considered at increased risk (unlike with flu).

We are advised to only invite people for COVID vaccine who have “severe asthma” which have needed multiple courses of steroid tablets (prednisolone) or who have been admitted to hospital with their asthma.

Other people without severe asthma will therefore need to wait until they are offered the vaccine according to their age group.

The full at risk group 6 are as follows:

  • a blood cancer (such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma)
  • diabetes
  • dementia
  • a heart problem
  • a chest complaint or breathing difficulties, including bronchitis, emphysema or severe asthma
  • a kidney disease
  • a liver disease
  • lowered immunity due to disease or treatment (such as HIV infection, steroid medication, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)
  • rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or psoriasis (who may require long term immunosuppressive treatments)
  • have had an organ transplant
  • had a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
  • a neurological or muscle wasting condition
  • a severe or profound learning disability
  • a problem with your spleen, example sickle cell disease, or you have had your spleen removed
  • are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
  • are severely mentally ill

Also adult carers:

those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill