With the news on Monday this week that covid boosters are to be extended to people aged 18-39, NHS Lincolnshire CCG is asking for people’s patience as the covid programme locally prepares to crank up another gear.
In addition to the extension of the booster element of the covid vaccination programme, it has also been confirmed that the interval between second doses and boosters will be reduced from six months to three months, 12-15 year-olds will be eligible for a second dose, and immunosuppressed people will be offered a fourth dose of the vaccine if their clinical team recommends one.
“That’s quite a lot to take in and represents a huge undertaking, both for the NHS nationally and for us here in Lincolnshire,” comments Martin Fahy, Director of Nursing and Quality, NHS Lincolnshire CCG. “However, we’re up for the challenge and confident that, working with our partners, we will be able to respond positively.
“Of course, there’s a massive amount of work operationally in order to make this happen, but we’re on the case and working at extreme pace through the detail, the same way our colleagues across the country will be, to put in place the next – and arguably most complex – phase of the covid vaccination programme to-date.”
As with previous rounds of the vaccination rollout, the extension of the booster part of the programme will be done in a priority order, so that the most vulnerable people are protected first.
“This is obviously particularly important given the emergence of the Omicron variant, particularly whilst we wait for data to help us understand it better,” adds Martin. “There tends to be a lag between each announcement of a new phase of vaccinating and the opening up of vaccination slots, and we’re currently in that place now, waiting for the legal framework that will enable us to make a start on vaccinating the next cohort of people, however, planning and preparation have begun in earnest.
“Having said that, the Lincolnshire public’s support for us and the programme has been magnificent so far and we’ve no reason to think this will change going forwards. We have now given more than 246,000 boosters to people aged 40 and over.
“Our message to everyone is really clear and the same as before – we will contact you when it is your turn to be vaccinated, when this happens please come forwards as quickly as possible and book your vaccination. But until then please be patient, don’t contact us or your GP practice, we will absolutely ensure everyone who wants to be vaccinated has that opportunity. Please keep an eye on the CCG website as all the information about vaccinations is updated there on a regular basis.”
In Lincolnshire, people have been encouraged to either wait to be contacted by their local vaccination center or to book their booster vaccinations online using the National Booking System or by calling 119, and this will continue for the next phase of the booster programme.
“If you go online now, you’ll see that there’s a note confirming the NHS is working on plans to offer boosters to everyone aged 18 and over at three months since a second dose, whereas currently you can only book – and we can only give you a booster vaccination – if you are aged 40 or over and it’s six months since your second dose, but this will change in the next few days,” explains Martin.
The same note also confirms second doses for children aged 12-15 years old, as well as a fourth dose for people aged 16 and over with a severely weakened immune system.
“As with the boosters for those aged 18 and over, the NHS is also working at tremendous pace to put in place a fourth dose for immunosuppressed people – this is really important and we are concerned – both in Lincolnshire and nationally – that there are a number of immunosuppressed people who’ve not yet come forwards for their third primary dose,” comments Martin.
“If you’re immunosuppressed, please come forwards for your third – and in due course your fourth – doses as soon as you can. With eight weeks interval between them, you can have your vaccinations on a walk-in basis at one of our Mass Vaccination Centres at PRSA, Boston, or at the Lincolnshire Showground. Alternatively, you can now book online via the National Booking System. Please remember to bring with you a letter of eligibility, whether that’s something you have received from the national team or from your hospital consultant.”
The delivery of covid vaccinations to 12-15 year-olds in school has now finished its initial round, but there are still opportunities for 12-15 year-olds to have their first covid vaccination at a series of ‘pop-up’ sessions scheduled between now and Christmas at PRSA, Boston, and at the Lincolnshire Showground, as well as in Skegness and Spalding. Please remember that parents/guardians need to remember that, whilst no appointment is necessary, you do still need to consent first for your child to be vaccinated.