You may have seen in the news recently that there have been reports of an extremely rare adverse event of blood clots (concurrent thrombosis) and low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) following vaccination with the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine.
 

  • Around only 4 people develop this condition for every million doses of AZ vaccine doses given.
     
  • Those who experienced serious side effects after the first AZ dose should talk to a clinician about their second dose, however all others should continue to get their second dose.
     
  • It remains safe and effective and you should have it when offered, as the risk of Covid is a vastly higher risk. 
     
  • The new advice is for people who are aged under 30, where an alternative vaccine is preferred - however the risk of AZ is still extremely low.


If you have already had a first dose of AZ vaccine without suffering any serious side effects, you should complete the course.

This includes people aged 18 to 29 years who are health and social care workers, unpaid carers and family members of those who are immunosuppressed.

Going forward people aged 18-29 should be offered an alternative vaccination where it is available (Pfizer or Moderna vaccine) - but this group is not excluded from having the AZ vaccine.

Those who are booked into national booking service who are aged under 30 in cohort 1-9 will have their appointment cancelled and be advised to contact their GP to discuss options around Pfizer if needed.

Those who are pregnant or have a risk of blood clots should also have an initial discussion with their GP.

The UK vaccination programme has been very successful with more than 30 million people vaccinated and more than 6,000 lives already saved.

Colin Cox, Director of Public Health for Cumbria County Council said:

“The announcements about the AstraZeneca vaccine this week may be causing some people concern, but I’d want to reassure people that the vaccine remains very safe and effective and that this is actually our medicines regulation system doing its job.

"Even for younger people the balance of risk is still strongly in favour of vaccination and because we have multiple different vaccines have the flexibility to tweak the programme as issues arise. If I am offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, I will certainly accept it.”


Further Information 


BBC News Report


 



Charts of potential benefits and harms of the Astra-Zeneca vaccine from 
University of Cambridge – Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication


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We are currently calling all those aged 40+, health and social care workers, those with health conditions. 

There are two ways to get your covid vaccine.

•    Your GP will invite you for the vaccine (Unless you are a patient who is eligible because you are under 50 in the Brampton & Longton area or Eden).

•    You can book through the National Booking Service when you become eligble.

1)    Our Primary Care Networks – groups of GPs working together – call their patients when they receive vaccine and can book people in. They will call people in line with the cohorts decided by the JCVI. You can wait to be called locally your practice will be in touch when it is your turn.

2)    You can use the National Booking Service when you become eligible there are booking opportunuties at:

•    Boots in Carlisle
•    Pharmacy2U at Dunmail Park in Workington
•    Seacliffe Pharmacy in Kells, Whitehaven
•    Penrith Auction Mart Vaccination Centre

Please note - centres only show on the National Booking Service when there are slots available. If you can’t see the centre you are looking for it is advisable to try again later on. Slots are regularly added into the system (You may be offered slots further afield - you may choose to travel or wait for more local slots to become available).

If you are booked in for a vaccine and then take up a more convenient appointment you MUST cancel your original appointment so other people can be offered it.

What if I have refused the vaccine – will I get another chance?
You will be booked in if you have changed your mind. You will be called again by your Practice or you can contact them.

Why do I need to keep following the guidelines after I have had my vaccine?
Keep following the hands, face and space guidance after you've had your vaccination. This is to make sure that while you have protection, you don’t pass covid on to other people. The government will let us know when we can start to relax how we follow the rules. For now we must do all we can to look after each other and help reduce the spread of covid.

When will I be called?
We are working towards offering the first vaccine to all over 50s and those in Cohorts 1-9 by the middle of April and all adults by the end of July.


A Large Vaccination Centre opened at Penrith Auction Mart on Thursday 25th March 2021 adding more capacity to help the NHS vaccinate people in our community.

The Penrith Vaccination site is known as the:
Penrith Auction Mart Vaccination Centre Skirsgill Lane, Penrith CA11 0DN

People who receive invitations from the National Booking Service run by NHS England can attend Large Vaccination Centres. People receive a letter and are invited to book either on-line or by calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm – only people invited to book can do so. It will show appointments at the Penrith Auction Mart and community pharmacy, but not for primary care.

Please note - centres only show on the National Booking Service when there are slots available, so if you can’t see the centre you are looking for it is advisable to try again later on. Slots are regularly added into the system.

Patient Walk Through Video

This is an option - you can still wait to be called by your local practice to have your vaccination closer to home. Practices are working through eligible cohorts and calling people when vaccine and appointments are available.

The Penrith Auction Mart Vaccination Centre is run by clinical staff, people who have been trained to become vaccinators, administrative staff and supported by a range of volunteers who make sure the service operates as smoothly and safely as possible.

 

 


Cohort 6 includes Unpaid Carers and those with Learning Disabilities.


Unpaid Carers

Unpaid carers are eligible for the covid vaccine as part of Cohort 6 defined by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI).

The definition given for those eligible is:

•    Eligible for Carer’s Allowance 
•    Those who are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of

COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable. (This includes: those clinically vulnerable to COVID include children with severe neuro-disabilities, those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), adults who have underlying health conditions and those who need care because of advanced age

If you are an unpaid carer for an adult, and are currently known through the following routes, you will have been invited for your vaccine by your GP practice or via the National Booking Service:
 
·       Those known to GPs who have a 'carers flag' on their primary care record 
·       Those in receipt of or entitled to carers allowance 
·       Those carers known to Local Authorities who are in receipt of support following a carers assessment 
·       Those known to local carer organisations to be actively receiving care and support


If you fall into one of these groups and have not yet been offered an appointment please contact your GP surgery.

If you do not fall into one of the groups below but you are an unpaid carer over the age of 18 who is not already known to health and care services you should contact your GP practice to request a vaccination on the grounds that you are the sole or primary carer of an elderly or disabled person who is at increased risk of COVID-19 mortality and therefore clinically vulnerable. (This includes: those clinically vulnerable to COVID include children with severe neuro-disabilities, those who are designated Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV), adults who have underlying health conditions and those who need care because of advanced age).

You will be asked a few questions and if this confirms that you are eligible you will be given  a vaccination appointment.

A reminder for carers attending appointments booked via the National Booking System at a Large Vaccination centre or Pharmacy site.

If you are attending one of these sites please remember to bring your invite letter, and if possible photographic ID, with you to your appointment. If you do not have photographic ID then please bring some other form of supporting identification with your name and address on e.g. a utility bill or a bank statement print out, in order to speed up verification.

If you have booked via the National Booking site but do not have an invite letter, please just bring identification.
 

People with Learning Disabilities

Easy read vaccination leaflets and other LD resources here.

All people registered as having a Learning Disability with their GP are being called as part of Cohort 6. You will be contacted by your Practice and invited for an appointment. If you need more information or support please talk to your Practice ahead of your appointment.


Important information if you have had the vaccine

Why do I need to keep following the guidelines after I have had my vaccine?
Keep following the hands, face and space guidance after you've had your vaccination. This is to make sure that while you have protection, you don’t pass covid on to other people. The government will let us know when we can start to relax how we follow the rules. For now we must do all we can to look after each other and help reduce the spread of covid.

You can also find national information about the vaccine here: 

More information about the vaccine – any further questions may be answered here 

Everything you need to know about what’s in the vaccines and how they’re made can be found here


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FAQs featured below

(Including is the vaccine safe? / questions around fertility and pregnancy)

Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe? 

Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until independent experts have signed off that it is safe to do so.   
  
The MHRA, the official UK regulator, has said that both of these vaccines have good safety profiles and offer a high level of protection, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.   
  
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products.  
  
There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.    
 

Where are the vaccination hubs located?

Our GP Practices are working together in local areas. These groups of Practices are called Primary Care Networks. To get through the numbers needed safely (and manage access and traffic) they have a hub delivering the vaccine for all the member practices.

North Cumbria has eight Primary Care Networks. They are:

  • Brampton and Longtown PCN – Brampton Community Centre
  • Carlisle Healthcare PCN – North Carlisle Medical Practice
  • Carlisle Network PCN – Morton Surgery
  • Cockermouth and Maryport PCN – Castlegate and Derwent Surgery (Cockermouth Community Hospital) and Maryport Rugby Club
  • Copeland PCN – Flatt Walks Surgery
  • Eden PCN – Penrith Hospital
  • Keswick and Solway PCN – Wigton Hospital
  • Workington PCN – Orchard House Surgery

If you are unable to get to the hub for your vaccine please talk to your Practice when you are called for your appointment to see if alternative arrangements can be made.

Please do not call your practice in relation to COVID vaccination appointments - you will be contacted when it is your turn.

How effective are the vaccines?  How long do they take to work?

The MHRA have said these vaccines are highly effective, but to get full protection people need to come back for the second dose – this is really important.  

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both the OxfordAstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.

Full protection kicks in around a week or two after that second dose, which is why it’s also important that when you do get invited, you act on that and get yourself booked in as soon as possible. Even those who have received a vaccine still need to follow social distancing and other guidance.  

What vaccines are currently available?

Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are now available. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA.

The Government has in principle secured access to seven different vaccine candidates, across four different vaccine types.

This includes:   
•    the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine  
•    the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
•    the Moderna vaccine, which is also being assessed by the MHRA. 
 

What happens if a person has the first jab but not the second?

Both vaccines have been authorised on the basis of two doses because the evidence from the clinical trials shows that this gives the maximum level of protection. 

To ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible, the Department for Health and Social Care now advise that the second dose of both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine should be scheduled up to 12 weeks apart.

The evidence doesn’t show any risk to not having the second dose other than not being as protected as you otherwise would be. We would urge everyone to show up for both of their appointments for their own protection as well as to ensure we don’t waste vaccines or the time of NHS staff
 

Frequently Asked Questions around fertility and pregnancy and the covid vaccines

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)  and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) issue joint statement about Covid-19 vaccinations, fertility and pregnancy:

The RCOG and the RCM are aware that there has been some misinformation circulating about the impact of Covid-19 vaccines on fertility.

Dr Edward Morris, President at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: “We want to reassure women that there is no evidence to suggest that Covid-19 vaccines will affect fertility. Claims of any effect of Covid-19 vaccination on fertility are speculative and not supported by any data. 

“There is​ ​no biologically plausible mechanism by which current vaccines would cause any impact on women's fertility.  Evidence has not been presented that women who have been vaccinated have gone on to have fertility problems.

For women in the age group where they may be considering pregnancy, the vaccination is only currently being offered to two groups - health and social care workers (including carers for older adults in residential care homes) who are at higher risk of catching Covid-19 and those with ​serious medical conditions who have a greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Pregnant and breastfeeding women who are eligible will also be offered the vaccine.

RCM Chief Executive Gill Walton said:  “If you are eligible for and have been offered a Covid-19 vaccine, the decision whether to have the vaccination is your choice. You can either have the vaccine or wait for more information about the vaccine. Women who are eligible for the vaccination should consider discussing any concerns they have with their midwife or healthcare professional."

The RCOG and RCM would also like to emphasise to all women in this group (and all others) the importance of practicing social distancing, wearing a mask and regular handwashing.

We have produced an information sheet to help pregnant women who are eligible for and have been offered vaccination make an informed choice. Please also read our Q&As on COVID-19 vaccination, pregnancy and breastfeeding which can be found on our website - https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/guidelines/coronavirus-pregnancy/covid-19-virus-infection-and-pregnancy/#vaccines

Other useful information: