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COVID-19 vaccine – information for people living in Essex and Suffolk
Update 10 April: New advice has been issued on the Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine. Advice from the regulatory body the Medicines Heathcare products Regulatory Agency is available here. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has also issued a statement. An information leaflet has been published by Public Health England.
The JCVI has weighed the relative balance of benefits and risks and advise that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of adverse events for individuals 30 years of age and over and those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease.
JCVI currently advises that it is preferable for adults under 30 years without underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease, to be offered an alternative COVID-19 vaccine, if available.
Please note: Following this guidance, we are very sorry, existing appointments for people under 30 at our vaccination centres have been cancelled. Please contact your GP or book an alternative vaccine by contacting 119. Should your GP advise that it is appropriate for you to have AstraZenenca, please contact 0344 2573961.
All those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine should continue to be offered a second dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, irrespective of age. The second dose will be important for longer lasting protection against COVID-19.
Despite the expected reduction in vaccine supply of AstraZeneca (for a few weeks) the vaccination continues to make strong progress and we have been continuing to focus on people 50 and above.
We have limited appointments across many of our vaccination centres over the next few days, please book as soon as possible. If you are in an eligible group and you haven’t booked your first dose yet, you can book online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119.
If you have already made an appointment, please attend as normal. Second doses are not affected. If you have a query about an existing appointment, please ring our local helpline (number below).
Patients booked in for vaccination are asked to attend on their own where possible to minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection. However, any individual is allowed to attend with another person, particularly if they need support, for example if they are in a wheelchair, are frail or have a learning disability.
Helpline – if you are in one of the eligible groups, live in Essex and Suffolk, and need further help to book an appointment, you can ring 0344 2573 961 (open 9am-4pm, local rate).
Please do not turn up at a vaccination site without an appointment.
First dose appointments available
We have appointments available next week at:
- The Lodge, Runwell in Wickford
- Gainsborough Sports Centre
- Chelmsford City Racecourse (Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday)
- JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester
- Chevington Close, Bury St Edmunds (next Monday only)
- Clacton Hospital (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday)
- Cliffs Pavilion (Monday, Tuesday, Saturday)
- Alastair Farquharson Centre, Thurrock Community Hospital
- The Mill Arts and Events Centre, Rayleigh (Tuesday and Thursday)
- The Columbine Centre, Walton-on-the-Naze (Saturday only)
Information on second doses
If your first dose is due in the next seven days (second doses are given between 77 – 84 days after the first) and you have not been able to book an appointment, please ring our helpline 0344 2573 961.
If you received your first dose at a GP-led vaccination service: you should return there for your second dose. Your GP may have already given you a date; if you don’t have a date yet, your GP will contact you soon.
If you received your first dose at a large vaccination centre: you should already have been given a date to return there for your second dose If you don’t have a date yet, you can book one online using the National Booking System or by calling 119. If you are having problems booking and your second dose is due in the next two weeks, please ring our local helpline: 0344 2573 961 (open 9am to 4pm).
If you received your first dose at a hospital: If you had your first dose at Basildon Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, Orsett Hospital, Southend Hospital or Towngate Theatre in Basildon and booked your appointment online using ShiftPartner, then your second appointment must be also booked using ShiftPartner. If you need to change the date of your second appointment, you can do this online using ShiftPartner. If you need help please call the Mid & South Essex COVID-19 Vaccination booking line on 01245 515919 (only queries about second dose). If you booked your first dose by calling the Mid and South Essex COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Line, they will be in contact with you.
If you received your first dose at a community pharmacy: you should have already been given a date to return there for your second dose. If you don’t have a date yet, you can book one online using the National Booking System or by calling 119.
About the programme
The NHS is vaccinating people in Essex and Suffolk against coronavirus as part of the biggest immunisation programme in NHS history.
The vaccination programme is continuing at speed and is being accelerated across both counties.
Who can receive the vaccine
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
It’s being given to:
- people aged 50 and over
- people at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers
- people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- people with a learning disability
- people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Who can use the national booking system
You can only use this service if any of the following apply:
- you are aged 50 or over
- you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- you have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- you have a learning disability
- you get a Carer’s Allowance, get support following an assessment by your local authority or your GP record shows you are a carer
If you think you are an eligible unpaid carer who has not been contacted for your coronavirus vaccination, speak to your GP surgery.
If you are eligible to use this service but cannot get an appointment, speak to your GP surgery.
You must be registered with a GP surgery in England to use this service. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
Find out more about who is eligible to have a coronavirus vaccination.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.So far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions or clotting problems, have been very rare.To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
Reports of very rare blood clots
The MHRA is carrying out a detailed review of reports of a very rare blood clotting problem affecting a small number of people who have had the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The problem can also happen in people who have not been vaccinated and it’s not yet clear why it affects some people.
The COVID-19 vaccine can help stop you getting seriously ill or dying from coronavirus. For people aged 30 or over and those with other health conditions, the benefits of being vaccinated outweigh any risk of clotting problems.
For people under 30 without other health conditions, it’s currently advised that it’s preferable to have another COVID-19 vaccine instead of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
Call 111 immediately if you get any of these symptoms starting from around 4 days to 4 weeks after being vaccinated:
- a severe headache that is not relieved with painkillers or is getting worse
- a headache that feels worse when you lie down or bend over
- a headache that’s unusual for you and occurs with blurred vision, feeling or being sick, problems speaking, weakness, drowsiness or seizures (fits)
- a rash that looks like small bruises or bleeding under the skin
- shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling or persistent abdominal (tummy) pain
Health and care staff are pulling out all the stops to open as many centres as possible as supplies become available. We now have hospital vaccination hubs, more than 40 GP-led services, 16 large vaccination centres and more opening in coming weeks.
There are also six community pharmacies giving the vaccine in Essex and Suffolk by appointment through the national booking system.
Housebound vaccinations are underway and being carried out via the GP-led vaccination services. People who are not able to travel to a vaccination site will be contacted before a clinician attends their home. Please do not let an unauthorised person into your home.
We are now inviting anyone aged 50 and over to book an appointment, either online at nhs.uk/covidvaccination or by phoning 119.
For all other age group: the NHS will contact people when it is your turn, please do not contact your GP practice for the vaccine.
For most people this will be a call or text from their GP or a letter from the NHS. The letter includes all the information you will need to book appointments, including your NHS number.
Remember: the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS.
The NHS will never ask for:
- your bank account or card details
- your pin or banking password
- copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips
If you think you have been a victim of fraud or identify theft, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Information on the Essex and Suffolk roll out
All information on Essex and Suffolk will be posted on this page as the new centres go live. Our latest slides on the roll out in Essex are available here.
Larger scale vaccination centres
There are currently 17 NHS large vaccination centre in Essex and Suffolk. These can give hundreds of vaccines a day, thousands a week, scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies. They are all giving the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. More will follow over the coming weeks. Please only attend if you have an appointment and do not arrive early.
- The Lodge, Runwell in Wickford
- Gainsborough Sports Centre, Ipswich
- Harlow Leisurezone
- Chelmsford City Racecourse
- JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester
- The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea
- Clacton Hospital
- Alastair Farquharson Centre, Thurrock Community Hospital
- The Mill Arts and Events Centre, Rayleigh
- Chevington Close, Bury St Edmunds
- The Columbine Centre, Walton-on-the-Naze
- Towngate Theatre, Basildon
- The Practice, Tylers Ride, South Woodham Ferrers
- College Heath Road, Mildenhall (current West Suffolk Council offices)
- Unity Trust Offices, Park Road, Haverhill
- Murray Hall, Loughton
- Runnymede Hall, Thundersley
Please see our site information page for further details on each of our large vaccination centres, including directions, parking, and accessibility information.
The new centres are being opened as the NHS rapidly accelerates the number of sites it can give the crucial first dose of the vaccine.
Please note: slots are opening regularly at all centres – if you have received a letter inviting you to receive the vaccine – please book in as soon as possible following the instructions in the letter.
People aged 50 and over can book online to go to vaccination centre or pharmacy-led site. Alternatively they can wait to be contacted by their local GP-led vaccination service.
There are more than 1,600 vaccination sites nationally with the programme continuing to accelerate.
The large scale vaccination centres are treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues, conference centres and NHS sites, as supplies of vaccine are distributed.
We currently have one hospital hub administering vaccines in Essex – Orsett Hospital. The remaining five hospital hubs have stopped vaccinating at the moment and will resume when second doses start. These are Basildon University Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, Southend Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Colchester Hospital.
There are two hospital hubs in Suffolk. These are Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds which has converted a floor in an office block into a staff vaccination hub.
GP vaccination services
Family doctors and other primary care staff are vaccinating their most vulnerable patients.
People in mid and south Essex are being invited to the following 25 locations: Puzey Family Practice in Rochford; Danbury Medical Centre; Highland Surgery in Leigh-on-Sea; Stifford Clays Health Centre in Grays; Chadwell Medical Centre, Grays; The Brentwood Centre; Audley Mills Surgery in Rayleigh; Maldon District Council Offices; The Valkyrie Surgery in Westcliff-On-Sea; The Nevendon Centre, Wickford; Emmanuel Archer Hall, Billericay; Holy Trinity RC Parish Church Hall and George Hurd Centre, Basildon; The Paddocks Community Centre, Canvey Island; Whitley House Surgery, Chelmsford; Pump House Surgery, Earls Colne; Benfleet Clinic, Benfleet; Fern House Surgery, Witham; Crouch Vale Medical Centre, South Woodham Ferrers; Rivermead Gate Medical Centre, Chelmsford; Saxon Hall, Southend; Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend; Salvation Army, Shoeburyness; Melbourne House Surgery, Chelmsford and St Michael’s Hospital, Braintree
In West Essex, five vaccination services have opened: Stansted Surgery in Stansted Mountfitchet, Spencer Close St Margaret’s Hospital in Epping, Lister Medical Centre in Harlow, Lord Butler Leisure Centre, in Saffron Walden and Buckhurst Way Clinic in Buckhurst Hill.
In Suffolk and north east Essex, there are 20 sites open. Six locations went live in December, two in west Suffolk (Woolpit and Bury St Edmonds), two in Ipswich and two in north east Essex (Clacton and Colchester). Fourteen more sites opened in January: four in west Suffolk, nine in Ipswich and east Suffolk and one in north east Essex. These are Fryatt Hospital, Harwich; Jubilee Centre, Mildenhall; Constable Country Medical Practice, East Bergholt; Debenham Leisure Centre, The Epicentre, Haverhill Research Park; Hadleigh Health Centre, Hardwicke House Surgery Cornard branch, Sudbury; Lavenham branch, Long Melford Surgery; Saxmundham Health; Sizewell Sports & Social Club, Leiston; The Grove Medical Centre, Felixstowe; The Mix, Stowmarket; Trinity Park Conference Centre, Ipswich and Woodbridge Community Hall.
The following community pharmacies are now offering the vaccine by appointment:
- Calvalry Road Pharmacy, Colchester
- Holland Pharmacy, Holland-on-Sea
- Audley Mills Community Pharmacy, Rayleigh
- Aqua Pharmacy, Duke Street, Ipswich
- Newmarket Racecourse
- Long Melford Pharmacy, Long Melford
Be aware of scams
The COVID-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge. The NHS will never ask you to share bank details to confirm your identity or pay for a vaccine.
For all the latest information on the national vaccination programme, please visit nhs.uk/CovidVaccine
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It’s given as 2 doses.
When the 2nd dose will be given
The latest evidence suggests the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for most people for up to 3 months.
As a result of this evidence, when you can have the 2nd dose has changed. This is also to make sure as many people can have the vaccine as possible.
The 2nd dose was previously 21 days after having the 1st dose, but has now changed to 12 weeks after. If you:
- Have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose before Monday 4 January, keep your appointment
- Have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose after Monday 4 January, the NHS will contact you about when you’ll have your 2nd dose
- Are due to have your 1st dose after Wednesday 30 December, you’ll be given your 2nd dose 12 weeks later
Suitability of the vaccine for you (FAQs)
We have a list of frequently asked questions on the suitability for you of the Pfizer and the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines.
If you have any questions on the suitability of the vaccine for you, you can email: email@example.com. We cannot respond with personalised answers, but we will respond with a general answer and the FAQs will be updated according to the queries we receive.
Guidance from the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is that people with a history of anaphylaxis to food, an identified drug or vaccine, or an insect sting can receive any COVID-19 vaccine, as long as they are not known to be allergic to any component of the COVID-19 vaccines. There are very few people who cannot receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines.
Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.
You should not have the COVID-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:
- a previous dose of the same vaccine
- any of the ingredients in the vaccine
Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Advice if you’re of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding
There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.
The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re pregnant and:
- at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work
- have a health condition that means you’re at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus
You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re breastfeeding.
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
Are you an eligible frontline health or social care worker in England who can receive the vaccine now?
This means you have direct contact with patients, clients or service users at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).
Health workers, for example: work in a clinical role (such as a doctor or nurse), have contact in a non-clinical role (such as a receptionist or porter), work in a hospital laboratory, mortuary or a funeral home.
Social care workers provide face-to-face care or support to children or adults at higher risk from COVID-19 (clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable), for example, are a registered professional in social care (such as a social worker or nurse), work in residential care, nursing care or in supported living, provide personal care for people in their homes.
Health and social care workers need to bring official proof with you to have your vaccination. For example, a work ID card, wage slip or letter from your employer dated within the last 3 months. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, speak to your employer.
If you provide home help, such as shopping or cleaning, are an unpaid carer or care for children who are not at higher risk from COVID-19, for example as a childminder or nursery nurse – you will be offered vaccine at a later date.
Guide for older adults
Women of childbearing age, currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
Guide for healthcare workers
Guide for social care staff
What to expect after vaccination