Covid Vaccine Roll Our for the Forest of Dean Update

The Forest of Dean Primary Care Network (made up of all 11 GP Practices in the Forest of Dean) successfully commenced its vaccination programme using the Pfizer vaccine on 21 December 2020. The centre for the Forest of Dean (old Cinderford Health Centre by the large Co-op in Cinderford) kicked off on Monday 21 December when it received the initial vaccine supply in the morning and in 3.5 days 1080 Forest patients, front line community staff and some care home staff were vaccinated. This was a tremendous effort and appreciated by all, many patients saying it was ‘the best Christmas present!’

Moving forwards, the plan is to vaccinate during week days in the age categories outlined by NHS England and to continue getting more NHS and care home staff vaccinated. Unfortunately a minor issue this week with the supply of the vaccine to the Forest of Dean has resulted in the need for some patients to have their appointments rearranged for later in the week. Together with the need to cancel 2nd vaccine appointments (follow ups were originally booked 21 – 28 days after 1st vaccine) it has caused a massive workload for Surgeries this week. Patients have been contacted by staff at the Vaccination Centre and their own Surgery to alter appointments and additional clinics for the weekend have been added to ensure no-one misses out.

Sadly, a scam has also come to light whereby text messages telling patients they are eligible for a Covid vaccination and to send their bank details. Patients should not do this – they will not be asked for their bank details from anyone legitimately working at the Vaccination Centre or from their registered Surgery.

We are asking patients not to call their Surgery to book an appointment for the Covid vaccine; everyone will be contacted by their Surgery or the Vaccination Centre. The booking system will shortly move to an online system too in order to add flexibility and reduce the number of calls Surgeries are making. Dr Sophia Sandford, Clinical Director for the Forest of Dean PCN said ‘ the planning of appointments and booking patients in for their vaccine has been a huge task for Surgeries and the PCN; we have dedicated resources to rescheduling some appointments following minor disruption to this week’s delivery and we have been successful in obtaining additional supply. In order to get through the allocated doses we are adding additional clinics in this weekend and staff are in the process of contacting patients to fill all available appointments.’

A roving vaccination team has been quickly set up to vaccinate all CQC registered Care Homes and staff in the Forest of Dean, this will start on Thursday 7 January 2021 and will take 6 days to complete. This will be carried out with a supply of the Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccine the Forest of Dean has been allocated. Dr Weiss, Clinical Director for the Forest of Dean PCN said ‘ we have quickly mobilised a team of vaccinators to carry out the important work of vaccinating our vulnerable patients in Care Homes, we are working as many hours as we can to get this completed by Wednesday 13 January 2021’.

There is possibility that vaccine supply may be disrupted in the future so we ask patients to bear with us as we are acting on the information we have at the time. Once the supply of vaccine has been confirmed Surgeries will go ahead with bookings. At the moment, the Forest of Dean PCN has not had confirmation of the weekly vaccine numbers they are expecting for Pfizer or the recently approved Astra Zeneca (Oxford) vaccines. Currently patients who are due a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 12 weeks after their first have not yet had these appointments made. Second dose appointments originally made between 21 and 28 days after the first have been cancelled to allow for more patients to receive their first dose quicker as per NHS guidelines.

The response for volunteers to work at the Vaccination Centre has been overwhelming with enough retired health care professionals with previous vaccination experience coming on board. Training has taken place and more will be trained once supply of vaccine has been confirmed. Many non-vaccinating volunteers have come forward to help and no more volunteers are currently required. The Forest of Dean PCN is delighted with the response from all the volunteers and wishes to thanks everyone who has come forward to help with this mass vaccination programme.

As published before, due to the volume of people to immunise, we are asking that everyone:
• Arrives on time, not early for their appointments
• Parks at the Cinderford Rugby Club whenever possible and walks to the clinic
• Follows social distancing when queuing and wears a face mask

The Forest’s GP Surgeries will continue to operate as they are now, open to patients and continuing to offer online, telephone, video and face to face appointments. Patients are urged to follow the current process in place for contacting their Surgery. Due to the extra workload Surgeries are experiencing, please note phone lines will be busy so please make use of other ways to contact your Surgery for non-urgent matters such as via their online systems. The workload is unprecedented for Surgeries coping with a busy time of year and the mass vaccination programme. Remember, if you have any Coronavirus symptoms please cancel all appointments either at your Surgery or for your Covid-19 vaccine. The Forest of Dean is Tier 4 – please do not make unnecessary journeys to your Surgery.

Thank you to all the Forest of Dean patients for their support during challenging times; please keep an eye on your Surgery website, Facebook page or for changing details and news updates in the Forester. For all contact with others please remember clean hands, wear your face covering or mask and make space.