Chair of Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to present the issues and key messages on the rollout of the mass vaccination programme and communications, to include:
· National Picture
· Plan for Devon
· an update from the DCC Strategic Lead on COVID 19 on the plan for care homes
· NHS Communications Plan
The Chair of the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group presented the issues and key messages on the rollout of the mass vaccination programme and communications, which included:
· The decision to defer the second dose of vaccine to 12 weeks and the rationale for this, explaining it was better to get an increased coverage (more people) at 80% protection rather than a smaller number of vulnerable people vaccinated with 2 doses giving 90% protection. The 80% protection did not reduce during those 8 weeks.
· The two choices of vaccine (Pfizer and AstraZeneca) were both available in the County and being used and there was very little between them in terms of effectiveness. However, the AstraZeneca vaccines were easier to handle in terms of resilience to movement (therefore was more mobile), had a longer shelf live and did not require the same strict storage as the Pfizer vaccine.
· Priority groups – a table was shown with the estimated COVIDs deaths in each group, the cumulative percentage of total COVID deaths, approximate population of each group and the vaccinations required to prevent one COVID death.
The table could be found at Vaccine Priorities (covid-arg.com) and clicking on the bulletin link and the priority categories are detailed below.
1 - residents in a care home for older adults / their carers
2 - everyone aged 80 and over / frontline health and social care workers
3 - everyone aged 75 and over
4 - everyone aged 70 and over / clinically extremely vulnerable
5 - everyone aged 65 and over
6 - age 16-64 with underlying health conditions; at higher risk
7 - everyone aged 60 and over
8 - everyone aged 55 and over
9 - everyone aged 50 and over
10 - All the rest.
Details of the rollout were highlighted, including the role of GP’s, staff training, GP sites and pharmacies. Work was also ongoing with NHS England to have 2 mass vaccination sites, although authority from the NHS was awaited.
For NHS Communications, this focussed on the purpose of the vaccine, why the relevant groups had been prioritised and who they were.
It was stressed that the vaccine was not a reason to relax any approach to social distancing measures and it was crucial that people did not lower their guard. The country was still in the midst of a pandemic which threatened lives.
Devon County Council’s Strategic Lead on COVID 19 and Care Homes then updated the Board on the roll out of vaccines in care homes. There were a large number in Devon, many small to medium in size combined with a complex geography. Delivery was approached in a number of ways including roving vaccine teams supplemented by staff going to other sites (hotspot hubs). Good progress had been made with the vaccination of staff commencing in December. Most of the homes with over 50 residents had been vaccinated with work starting now on the smaller homes. There had been good engagement with the sector and staff felt the work had been exceptionally rewarding.
Questions were asked in relation to the priority of health care worker, the challenge in rural areas, the voluntary and community sector (especially those providing front line support), the BAME community being more susceptible to COVID and also actions to increase vaccine take up, the wearing of facemasks and exemptions.
The Director of Public Health highlighted that a piece of work was currently being undertaken looking at health inequalities, giving an assurance that work was being done in considering hard to reach groups.