Covid News and Updates    2021

  1. 1It is pretty clear to me that mass vaccination, when there is limited stock and high throughput is required, is best carried out at mass vaccination centres.  Once there is greater levels of stock and we can afford to be less efficient in the administration of the vaccine then of course pharmacists should be involved in the vaccination programme, particularly if this is to become an annual event.


[Graham Phillips] Agreed;  which is why we should get the service set up and commissioned NOW so we can hit the ground running as soon as stocks become available. That is precisely what happens every year with the flu jab


Also, I would be less cynical about all the chirping from local pharmacists if they came out and stated they would offer to carry out vaccinations free of charge to the NHS.  In the Harpendia article, Graham Phillips is quoted as saying "The Nation’s 11,000+ local community pharmacies have offered to work alongside local GPs to provide a vaccination service in precisely the same way they already provide the annual Flu jab".  Given that they get paid to administer the flu vaccine it seems that all this complaining maybe about not having the opportunity to take "advantage" of another revenue stream.  Maybe they could volunteer at one of the mass vaccination centres until such time that and alternative more distributed approach can be afforded

[Graham Phillips] Does your reader assume that GPs are providing this service unpaid? I can assure them that’s not the case. The NHS has invested an additional £150m to fund GPs to provide the service.  Community pharmacists would provide the identical service and  be paid the same as our GP colleagues. To provide something at this scale (ie  to inject the majority  of the UK adult population TWICE with no resources is simply not feasible. Does your correspondent believe that the pharmaceutical companies are providing the jabs for free? I can assure you that they aren’t


  1. 1Pharmacies will need space to do this also with the Pfizer vaccine you have to wait to see if there are side affects so not that easy as well as PPE. Not like a flu jab when you can walk in and out. Logistics would be hard as well as storage of the vaccine and safety of storing it and who is handling it during storage. Being an ex nurse it often isn’t as simply as you think. X the Pfizer vaccine you have to return for a second injection so again the logistics of that.


[Graham Phillips] We have the space: already provide the annual flu jab; actually with respect to the new Oxford/AZ jab its remarkably similar to the annual Flu jab, except each person receives the vaccine twice. As for the logistics? Community pharmacists are superb at logistics: perhaps your correspondent is unaware of the 10 billion prescriptions we dispense every year


3. Certainly the way to go in the future as so much more convenient for us the public.

Would imagine the logistics behind distribution etc a handicap. In addition having seen the huge number of people having covid vaccinations at batchwood yesterday ( my 96 year old mother one of them) can see that the central vaccination sites a good way to have as large a "throughput" as possible in the first few months of covid vaccine rollout. There's certainly a time and place for pharmacy and gp surgery vaccinations but let's go for the easy wins first!!


[Graham Phillips] The logistics are not a problem for us. I doubt your correspondents mother has to go to a distant centre to collect their prescriptions? Or do they use a local pharmacy? Nuff said!


Jan 11. PHARMACY OWNER GRAHAM PHILLIPS RESPONDS TO comments on Harpenden’s social media about Pharmacies being used for Covid vaccinations.

“Can Harpenden Pharmacies

be enlisted to help with the

Covid Vaccination programme?

I wondered why Pharmacies were not

involved in the programme given their

experience in providing Flu jabs. So I

researched the web site of

The Pharmaceutical Journal.

They were confident that that Pharmacies

could offer vaccinations if they followed Government procedures.

I also asked Graham Phillips the owner of Manor Pharmacy Group for his comments about the practicalities of the current situation and his thoughts going forward to achieve the Government targets.

Graham Phillips said:


The NHS is under massive pressure. The sooner we get vaccinated, the sooner thousands of lives (and the economy) will be saved.


The introduction of the new, (Oxford) Covid vaccination is a potential game changer which could be made available from every local pharmacy.


The Nation’s 11,000+ local community pharmacies have offered to work alongside local GPs to provide a vaccination service in precisely the same way they already provide the annual Flu jab. (Incidentally patient satisfaction with the pharmacy Flu service is off the scale!) If every local pharmacy were to provide just 20 Covid jabs a day, this would increase capacity by over 1.4million jabs PER WEEK.  But the Government has rejected the offer..


To deny people the convenience of having a jab from their local pharmacy (compared with than having to travel to a mass vaccination centre) and the opportunity to have the jab much sooner seems absolutely crazy.  


Why not write to our local MP and ask him to justify this position.

The 3 Harpenden GP Surgeries are still to announce a start date and a location. The Harpenden Trust have co ordinated a large volunteer force ready to assist the medical professionals. So it would seem that vaccinations could soon start? Presuming of course supplies of the vaccine are received.

BBC TV NEWS at ONE Jan 6 featured Simon Dukes, Chief Executive, Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee who questioned why Pharmacies across the country were not being involved in the roll out.


People in Wales will be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination from their “local GP practice or pharmacy”, Vaughan Gething, the Welsh health minister, has said.


COVID-19 vaccination sites led by community pharmacies will start administering vaccines to patients in England from the week beginning 11 January 2021, NHS England has said.

The announcement comes as high street multiple Boots told The Pharmaceutical Journal that it will open three COVID-19 vaccination sites in Halifax, West Yorkshire, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire and Gloucester from “early January.


Pharmacy technicians in England are able to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the Association of Pharmacy Technicians (APTUK) has said.

In a position statement, APTUK said that the government’s national protocol enables pharmacy technicians in England to “be authorised by name” to work under the supervision of a registered healthcare professional to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

Ron Taylor. Editor.

Harpenden Health Primary Care Network (HHPCN) Newsletter 2   FAQ’s

Some Frequently Asked Questions

• Are all the three Harpenden GP Practices working together on this?  Yes

 How do I get an appointment? If you have a smart mobile telephone number you will receive an invitation, which is an easy to use, automated booking system. If you do not, then your Practice will phone you. If you have a Smart phone but think your surgery may not know the number, please email them to update your details.

 Is it by appointment only? Yes

 If I am concerned that I have been overlooked, should I telephone my GP Surgery? No, please do not telephone the surgery regarding COVID vaccinations as this will block our telephone lines for patients making it difficult to get thorough about urgent and routine medical problems

 I have received an NHS letter regarding the Stevenage Vaccination Centre. The GPs are at the Harpenden Public Halls. Where should I go? If you do not want to wait to be invited to attend Harpenden Public Halls, please follow the guidance in the NHS letter about getting a vaccination from Stevenage. If you have an appointment already at Harpenden Public Halls, please attend that one

 What Priority Group / cohort are you currently vaccinating? Priority Two currently

 When will you start issuing appointments for the next priority cohort? Priority Three already being invited

 Can you remind me of the Priority Groups? Please see previous newsletter. If you are currently working as a Health Care Provider or a Social Care Worker and have not received your invitation, please email your surgery with details of your job and inform them that you have not received an invitation. The most likely explanation is that the Practice does not know your occupation, so has not coded it and thus your priority is determined by your age and not your occupation

 How can I find out when I will be invited? HHPCN is working through the priority groups as quickly as we are delivered vaccines, please see progress report above

 Can uninvited people, with no appointment, simply turn up at the end of the day? Absolutely not, this puts our staff and volunteers at risk and delays the running of the clinic

 Does the Harpenden Vaccination Centre have enough vaccines? We invite only those we know we have the supply of vaccines for, which is why we are working under an appointment only model.

 Do you have both Pfizer and Astra-Zeneca? This changes from week to week and is outside our control

 Can I choose which vaccine I receive? No, the Pfizer dose has to be used within 72 hours and will always be the default vaccine given. Any other approach potentially leads to vaccine wastage

 What time does the Vaccination Centre open? Appointments currently run between 09.00 to 18.00 hours on the days we have vaccine supplies

 How early should I arrive for my appointment? Please arrive at the entrance to Harpenden Public Halls no more than 5 minutes before your appointment time

 What if I have difficulties and arrive late? If at all possible, you will still be seen provided we are open and still have vaccine supplies but please do arrive on time unless exceptional reasons. We cannot operate efficiently during the day if more than a few people are late

 How long are the queues? We operate by appointment only, in order to avoid queues. From time to time queues will occur, under those circumstances elderly and frail will be prioritised so they are not left waiting outside.

 How can I help the Clinics run more efficiently? If you are fit enough to walk here please do. Please arrive on time. There is free parking at Harpenden Railway Station but for both vaccines you are not allowed to drive for at least 15 minutes. Depending on past medical history, some people will be able to leave straight after they have been vaccinated.

 What do I need to bring with me to my appointment? Please bring some identification in case we need to confirm personal details.

 Do I need my NHS number? It would be helpful to have your NHS number, but not essential. You will find it on any NHS letter to you, on your repeat prescription details or on the NHS app if you have registered with it.

 Are there any car parking facilities? Yes as detailed below and in Newsletter 2.

 Can I be dropped off right outside the Vaccination Centre at the Public Halls? Yes, the road is closed for this purpose. Please drive up to and speak to the marshal on duty at the corner of Southdown Road and Arden Grove.

 Is the patient Entrance to the Public Halls the same as the patient Exit? No, the exit is into the alley way on the left as you are looking at the Main Entrance

 Where do I need to wait to pick someone up? Please wait in the Harpenden Railway Station car park. If the person you are waiting for cannot phone you but you have a mobile telephone, please give the number to the Volunteer who assists the person you are dropping off in to the Main Halls. We will ask our volunteer to phone you to collect from near the entrance. Please come immediately as we have very limited waiting spaces.

What happens in the Vaccination Centre? On arrival you will be checked in at a table in the Main Hall, given a paper slip with your personal details which will be scanned by the Vaccinator who then administers your vaccine. Depending on your medical details and which vaccine you receive, you will either be able to leave immediately or have to wait up to 15 minutes. Our post vaccine waiting room is in Southdown Hall with chairs available


 Is it safe? Everyone has a temperature check on arrival and wearing of a mask is compulsory. All vaccinators working that day have had a Rapid Lateral Flow Test to exclude current COVID-19 infection before they start their shift.

 Is there social distancing in the Public Halls? Yes

 Can my family member/my carer come with me? Not unless absolutely necessary, we have plenty of volunteers and some wheel chairs to assist those who need it.

Will I be given a date for my second appointment? NHS England does not currently allow us to issue appointments for the second vaccination yet. It will be due after 12 weeks and, at this stage, you will be invited in the same way as for your first appointment.

 Is there anything I can read to understand more about the Vaccines and the Vaccination process? Please refer to previous newsletters, your GP Practice websites and

 I am self-isolating. Should I still attend the Vaccination Centre? Definitely not
Can I have my vaccine if I have had a positive COVID swab: Anyone who has had a positive swab in the last 28 days is excluded from being vaccinated, thereafter they can be vaccinated.

 What happens if I cannot make my appointment? Please email your GP surgery asking them to make alternative arrangements.

 I am part of a government monitoring programme and have a swab monthly. Can I be vaccinated? Yes

 I have read that there may be 24 hour vaccination centres. Will Harpenden become a 24 hour centre? No

 If I want to volunteer to help generally at the Harpenden Vaccination Centre, who should I contact? The Harpenden Trust on

Dr David Hemsi, Dr Tania Goodwin and Dr Chas Thenuwara Harpenden Health Primary Care Network

FEB 17.  Re Vaccinations in Harpenden. Harpenden Health PCN COVID Vaccination update

This is the fourth newsletter in what will be a regular update from Harpenden Health Primary Care Network (HHPCN) on the mass COVID vaccination programme for our registered patients and local communities.

It is the definitive source for up-to-date factual information.


Harpenden Public Halls opened for COVID

vaccinations on Wednesday 13th Jan. 2021.

Since then, regular COVID vaccination clinics

have been running whenever we have had

supplies of vaccine.

As soon as we are notified of the date of

the next vaccine delivery, more patients

will be contacted, and more appointments

will be arranged.

Harpenden Public Halls COVID vaccination centre operates by appointment only. Please do not visit us unless you have an appointment as not only does this delay our work, it also increases our risk of catching COVID from an asymptomatic carrier.
We have vaccinated all registered patients in cohorts 1 to 4 who wanted vaccination.
If you are in cohort 1 to 4 and have not received your invitation for vaccination yet, or indeed have changed your mind and want to be vaccinated now, then please contact your Practice and ask for an appointment.
We have already invited people in cohort 5 for our next clinics booked on 18/2/2021 and 27/2/2021.

Feb 5. Vaccines 'extremely

safe' as cases continue to fall.

Oxford-AZ vaccine 'effective

against dominant UK variant'

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine gives

people good protection against the new

coronavirus variant which is now

dominant in the UK, its developers say.

They found similar efficacy against the  B117 “Kent” variant to the original virus, based on swabs from volunteers.

It is still unclear how well the jab works against other variants.

But the Oxford team says it can easily update its vaccine and deploy a new version in the autumn if needed.

Vaccine developers say it is a relatively straightforward process to tweak the current recipe to target any new variants, which occur often in viruses and are not unexpected.

Scientists behind the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines also say early research suggests their vaccines appear to protect against the dominant new variant in the UK.

Progress Report:

To date around 7300 vaccinations have been performed for HHPCN registered patients. HHPCN continues to follow the latest guidance issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI) last updated on 6/1/2021: advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation-advice- on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination-30-december-2020

However, on the 15/2/2021 the Department of Health & Social Care issued information on an additional cohort of patients identified at increased risk from COVID-19, and the implications for their vaccination, support and advice. This is detailed below but is not included in the JCVI guidance above yet: c1099-letter-to-gps-on-risk-tool-sos-15th-feb/file

HHPCN will incorporate this guidance into the next round of invitations for vaccination we issue. This new group of patients will be added to the top of cohort 6 and contacted directly by the Government. This means some patients may receive two invitations for vaccination, one at Harpenden Halls and a second from the Government for a mass vaccination centre. Please see FAQ 5

COVID vaccine supplies are limited and NHS England are using regional differences in vaccination rates achieved to date to allocate vaccine supplies on a weekly basis
This ensures that people in the highest priority groups have access to vaccine supplies
COVID vaccination rates for the over 80’s in our area (Hertfordshire and West Essex STP) are the tenth highest of the 42 areas that England is divided in to. This means that already over 80% of over 80’s as well as people in care homes have been vaccinated \

We are awaiting further detailed breakdown of the figures.
NHS England vaccine distribution policy is based on the fact that nearly 90% of COVID deaths are in the groups due to get the jab by mid-February.
Second doses are due to be given around 11 weeks after the first dose and at the same place as the first dose. Currently the only group of people to receive second doses at 3-4 weeks are those about to start immunosuppressive therapy for the first time.
Patients will not have a choice of whether they receive the Pfizer or Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine as this depends on the delivery date and expiry date of the vaccines.
The only exception to this is on medical grounds.
We will continue to work down the priority groups in strict order.
Due to not knowing how many vaccines we will receive or when, it is not possible to tell you when you might expect to receive your vaccine invitation.

By now all health care professionals and social care workers should have received vaccination invitations through their professional bodies or employing organisation. This will be a link to make an appointment for a vaccination at Harpenden Memorial Hospital. In the meantime and if you are still having difficulties please phone 119 instead of your Practice.

Covid deaths down

COVID news update March 1st.

Monday evening saw Health Secretary Matt Hancock say there was "exciting new data" suggesting that coronavirus vaccines can reduce hospitalisations by more than 80%.

Speaking at the Downing Street press conference he said that one shot of either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines works against severe infection among over-70s and significantly reduces hospitalisations.

The study, published by Public Health England (PHE) on Monday, also shows that three to four weeks after a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, deaths in the over-80s are reduced by 83%.

The study, which has yet to be peer-reviewed, included more than 7.5 million people aged 70 and over in England.

"This is extremely good news," Mr Hancock said.

"In fact, the detailed data show that the protection that you get from catching Covid 35 days after a first jab is even slightly better for the Oxford jab than for Pfizer, albeit both results are clearly very strong."

Public Health England commented Since January, data has suggested protection against symptomatic Covid, four weeks after the first dose, ranged between 57 and 61% for one dose of Pfizer and between 60 and 73% for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr Mary Ramsay, PHE Head of Immunisation, said: "This adds to growing evidence showing that the vaccines are working to reduce infections and save lives.

"Even if you have been vaccinated, it is it is really important that you continue to act like you have the virus, practice good hand hygiene and stay at home.

The number of people in the UK to have been given a first dose of a Covid vaccine as of Sunday is 20,275,451.

France has announced it will be using the AstraZeneca vaccine.