The new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is being rolled out in local GP-led services today, making it easier to protect care home residents and other vulnerable people against COVID-19.
Unlike the Pfizer vaccine, the first to be approved which started being given in the week before Christmas, the Oxford vaccine does not need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures and is much easier to move, making it easier to use in care homes and to vaccinate the housebound.
Bristol’s Ashton Gate Stadium is one of seven ‘super vaccination’ centres across England and will be among the sites coming online locally next week, alongside further GP surgery sites. By the end of next week, every neighbourhood area in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) will have a GP practice vaccination centre up and running – 19 sites in total.
Kingswood GP and member of the clinical team responsible for the BNSSG COVID-19 vaccination programme, Dr Neil Kerfoot, said: “We’re delighted to have received the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine here at Kingswood Health Centre and in other sites across BNSSG today.
“There’s still much to be done, and we are working tirelessly to ensure the vaccine is rolled out effectively to everyone in the area who needs it.
“Our shared priority at the moment is to visit and vaccinate care home residents and staff, as well as vaccinating the over-80s across BNSSG.”
He said his primary care network (Hanham Health, Kingswood Health Centre, Cadbury Heath Healthcare and Close Farm Surgery) expects to have completed their care homes by the end of next week.
“This has involved a lot of work over Christmas and New Year, and I’d like to thank all of our staff who are working so hard to make this happen – as well as the public for their patience and support.
“We want to reassure our over-80s population that if you haven’t yet been contacted please don’t worry, we will be in touch very soon.”
Alongside people over the age of 80, care home residents and staff have been set as the highest priority group by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
While the approval and delivery of the Oxford vaccine means the NHS will be able to ramp up its vaccination efforts, it will still take some time to reach everyone who needs to be vaccinated.