Your questions on the Covid vaccine rollout answered

Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:46 pm

Earlier this week, this title and others across JPI Media launched a campaign called 'A Shot in the Arm', calling on the Government to let all pharmacies play a part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

We've asked the question to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, and also had it raised in PMQs by Karl Turner.

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The accompanying petition, which went live yesterday, has already surpassed its first milestone, with support from titles and readers all over the country.

We also asked you, our readers, for your questions about the vaccine rollout, which we put to the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England.

Here are their answers to your questions.

I am disabled/housebound. Will my GP surgery or local chemist be able to get the vaccine to me at home?

Guidance on vaccinations for housebound people is up online here.

I am shielding. Do I need to continue to shield after I have had my first dose of the vaccine?

Even after receiving a vaccine, people who have been asked to shield should continue to follow shielding advice until further notice, as we continue to assess the impact of vaccination among all groups. Anyone who is unsure should speak to their GP. The latest guidance can be found here.

Given the concern about the spread of the virus in supermarkets, will the government prioritise the vaccination of shop workers? They cannot choose to work from home and are exposed to many different people each day.

Supermarket staff who are over 50 or in one of the medically vulnerable priority groups will receive priority for the vaccine. For future priority lists, the JCVI will consider all available evidence for phase 2 recommendations of the vaccination programme.

My partner is shielding and is due to get the vaccine - can I get it earlier to keep them safe?

We do not yet know if the vaccines prevent someone from passing on the virus to others. We are following the advice from independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on which groups of people to prioritise for Covid-19 vaccines. They advised the immediate priority should be to prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality.

Will pharmacists be able to help with the wait time for a second dose?

The JCVI is confident 12 weeks is a reasonable dosing interval to achieve good longer-term protection. As the Chief Medical Officer said, it is about vaccinating the largest number of people more quickly.

What is the detailed selection criteria within the over-80s group? My mum, 93, is still waiting to hear.

We aim to offer the first vaccine dose to all those in the top four priority groups recommended by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) by 15 February. The priority groups can be found here.

I have had one jab but the second is now delayed. How safe am I to go to the supermarket as I have been unable to get a delivery slot from three supermarkets?

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines are both highly effective within two weeks of receiving the vaccine, even after one dose. We do not yet know whether the vaccine prevents transmission so you should continue to follow social distancing measures and wear a face covering, remembering ‘hands, face, space’.

How long does the vaccine last?

It is likely to be some time until we have sufficient data to provide a clear picture of how long the protective effect of vaccination lasts. Public Health England (PHE) will employ existing surveillance systems and enhanced follow-up of cases to monitor how effective the vaccine is at protecting against a range of outcomes including: infection, symptomatic disease, hospitalisations, mortality and onwards transmission.

Can they visit workplaces and administer it there?

By the end of January, everybody will live within 10 miles of one of our 2,700 vaccination centres, providing easy access, regardless of where you live. We are confident tens of millions of people will be immunised by the spring.

I'm classed as extremely vulnerable and I'm a teacher. My sister is a social worker, able to do the vast majority of her work from home, and is not vulnerable. So why is it she will probably get the vaccine before me?

We are following the advice from independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on which groups of people to prioritise for Covid-19 vaccines and extremely clinically vulnerable people will be offered the vaccine as part of the first four priority groups. The JCVI advised the immediate priority should be to prevent deaths and protect health and care staff, with old age deemed the single biggest factor determining mortality.

Do you agree that pharmacies should be able to play a part in the vaccine rollout? Sign our petition