There’s never a perfect time to assess a fast moving situation like our vaccination programme - details age fast, as in a war.
Still, there’s a pattern of questions sent to me, and a shortage of clear info about what’s happening in Gloucestershire. So here goes, in simple Q&A format:
Who’s responsible for the vaccination programme in Gloucestershire?
The co-ordination of the COVID Vaccination programme in Gloucestershire is led by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Professor Steve Hams is the nominated Senior Responsible Officer, and is supported by colleagues from local NHS organisations and our Primary Care Network (or PCN: ie the GP surgeries) with NHS England driving national vaccination policy, planning and distribution - so a public and private partnership
Who does what?
Our A&E hospitals trust (at GRH so far and now CGH as well) has been inoculating health & care professionals while the surgeries (at ten ‘vaccination centres’ across the county) inoculate everyone else (eg Rosebank on Stroud Rd in Gloucester). Our Health & Care Trust (which runs all our other Community Hospitals, mental health and much else) will also be vaccinating soon.
What about Public Health?
Public Health (part of the County Council) has an important policy role, deciding for example on mass testing sites (like the new one in the Friendship Cafe), trend analysis, awareness campaigns on virus and vaccination, and combating fake news deniers: but doesn’t deliver vaccinations.
How many vaccines can we deliver and do we have enough distribution capacity and sites?
The 10 centres and hospitals used so far could deliver c30,000 vaccinations a week: at that pace everyone in the Top 4 categories would be vaccinated fast.
The challenge is not distribution or sites (no more needed at the moment, with vaccinations starting next week in Boots Eastgate St and another community pharmacy in Bishops Cleeve). Vaccine supply is the issue, because everyone wants more of the Oxford vaccine faster than Astra Zeneca can produce it.
Why is the Oxford vaccine so important?
Because it can be kept at fridge temperature, because the government invested in it, negotiated a good price for the vaccine doses and pre ordered 100m doses. (It’s also manufactured down the road in Oxfordshire).
The Pfizer vaccine storage temperatures (at minus 75 degrees) and handling is more complicated and cannot be used eg at homes. We (UK) have ordered some Moderna vaccine but much less, and this will only available in the Spring.
So how many people have been vaccinated in Gloucestershire so far?
55,000. That’s well above our share of the 3 million vaccinated in the whole country (Gloucestershire is c1% of the population = 30,000 of 3 million): we got started fast and our PCN/NHS are well organised.
But this is not a race against our neighbours - the whole country needs to reach the same goals broadly together.
And will we reach the Feb 15th target for all in the Top 4 categories on time?
Yes - barring a manufacturing disaster no-one can anticipate, all our local health leaders are confident we will have vaccinated on time the 129,000 (20% of the county) which has included all the oldest plus health, care home and social care staff (See more information)