THE vaccine rollout is continuing across St Helens for those classed as being among the most vulnerable, NHS workers or care home residents and workers.

It will gather further pace after the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived locally on Friday.

This will be used to vaccinate residents and care home staff.

GPs will also now be able to vaccinate housebound residents, who have so far been unable to receive the Pfizer vaccine due to its fragility.

Last week booster jabs of the Pfizer vaccine were given to patients who received the vaccine in December.

With residents having lots of questions about the vaccination programme St Helens Clinical Care Commissioning Group (CCG) has set out further information and a Q&A in response to common questions that are being raised.

The CCG explained that the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines are currently both available and have been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

On Friday it was announced that the MHRA had given its approved for the Moderna vaccine to be administered. However, supplies will not be delivered until the spring.

Here is information from the CCG's Q&A

How soon will I be vaccinated?

The CCG says that broadly, vaccines are being given to the most vulnerable first, as set out in a list of nine high-priority groups, covering around 30 million people.

They are thought to represent 90-99% of those at risk of dying from Covid-19.

Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers

80-year-olds and over and frontline health and social care workers

75-year-olds and over

70-year-olds and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

65-year-olds and over

16- to 64-year-olds with serious underlying health conditions

60-year-olds and over

55-year-olds and over

50-year-olds and over

People aged over 90 have been the first to get the Pfizer jab at our mass vaccination clinic in St Helens – as well as larger care homes.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is better suited to protecting people who are housebound and in smaller care homes because it's easier to store and transport.

The aim of NHS England is to:

vaccinate every care home resident by the end of January

everyone over 70 and anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable by mid-February

the rest of the priority groups after that, possibly by Easter

The second phase of vaccination will focus on the rest of the population, mainly the under-50s, who are much less likely to be seriously ill with Covid-19.

Teachers, transport workers and the military etc could be prioritised at that point, but more data on how well the vaccines are working will be needed before that decision is made.

I’m housebound so can’t get to a mass vaccination clinic – how will I get my vaccination?

According to the CCG, GP surgeries have a list of their housebound patients and as soon as supplies are received of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, they will contact people to arrange to come and vaccinate people in their home.

Supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are now online and St Helens will receive them in batches via the national supply chain. By w/c January trh CCG says it should have received more than 1600 doses in total of this vaccine, which will enable it o complete vaccinations of care home residents and staff as well as housebound patients.

I have heard of people younger than 80 who have been vaccinated. Why is this?

The CCG says that to date it has used the Pfizer vaccines at the mass vaccination clinic at Saints stadium and began with inviting all those who were the eldest in the over 80s cohort. As some people did not attend their appointment, there were additional vaccines left that had been opened and so that we did not waste any, GP surgeries called people who were able to get to the stadium quickly and fell into one of the other four priority groups.

I’m a carer for my partner who is 80 and due a jab but I’m only 72 – will I get vaccinated at the same time?

The CCG explains that carers of people in the priority groups have not been allocated a vaccine. The priority is to vaccinate those most at risk and it will be unable to vaccinate carers at this stage.

My mum is in her 80s and lives at home but hasn’t been contacted about her vaccination yet. I thought all over 80s were getting vaccinated at the moment?

There is a large elderly population and more over 80s in St Helens than the CCG received vaccines for initially.

The health body says: "Once we receive further supplies and have vaccinated our care home residents and housebound we will return to vaccinating people in order of age/clinical risk at our mass vaccination clinics."

St Helens Star:

Why was our surgery only given a small number of doses of the vaccine?

The CCG says: "Our GP practices are all working together to run the mass vaccination clinics so no GP surgery has received a specific number of doses for their patients."

I’m not a health and care worker but I do work on the frontline so I’m probably at higher risk with the amount of public I come into contact with - why am I not in one of the priority groups?

The CCG answers: "The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) determines the prioritisation of vaccination. Age is the predominate factor for immunisation and the JCVI has determined that those over 50 years of age, and all those 16 years of age and over, in a risk group, would be eligible for vaccination within the first phase of the programme. This prioritisation captures almost all preventable deaths from Covid-19, including those associated with occupational exposure to infection.

St Helens Star:

"As such, JCVI does not advise further prioritisation by occupation during the first phase of the programme.

"Occupational prioritisation could form part of a second phase of the programme, which would include healthy individuals from 16 years of age up to 50 years of age, subject to consideration of the latest data on vaccine safety and effectiveness."

I think I should be on the vulnerable list due to my health condition but I’ve not had a letter asking me to shield and didn’t get one last time. What should I do?

The government in their announcement on January 4, have reinstated shielding for those who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. GPs have collated lists of patients in each practice that are known to them as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV). If you think that you should be on this list, you will need to contact your GP in the first instance to query if you should be listed as CEV.

Why are healthcare workers amongst the first groups to receive the vaccine?

The CCG says: "JCVI have put patient-facing health and social care staff into a priority group because of their heightened risk of exposure to the virus. Healthcare workers are not the top priority though and with limited vaccine, employers are being asked to offer the vaccine to the most at risk healthcare workers first.

"The NHS is experienced in vaccinating hundreds of thousands of staff quickly and safely – we do it every year for the flu vaccine – and all local NHS employers will be responsible for ensuring that 100% of eligible staff have the opportunity to take it up over the coming weeks and months."

How long does the vaccine take to become effective?

The Covid-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from Covid-19 disease, says the CCG. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?

The CCG states: "Yes, the vaccines do not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.

"If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs."

Who cannot have the vaccine?

People with a history of significant allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccine should not have the vaccine at this time, says the CCG.

It adds: "The COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended for women who are pregnant.

"People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered."

How effective is the Covid-19 vaccine?

THE CCG says: "This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination."

St Helens Star:

Vaccination clinics are taking place at St Helens rugby league stadium

Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?

The CCG says: "Yes. The NHS would not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, 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."

What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?

According to the CCG: "The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity.

"Overall, among the participants who received the Covid-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan."

I’m currently ill with Covid-19, can I get the vaccine?

People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the Covid-19 vaccine until they have recovered, says the CCG.

Do people who have already had Covid-19 get vaccinated?

The CCG says: "Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of Covid-19 infection, or with detectable Covid-19 antibody, so people who have had Covid-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the Covid-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so."

Are there any known or anticipated side effects?

The CCG says: "Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.

"Very common side effects include:

"Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine

"Feeling tired


"General aches, or mild flu like symptoms

"As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration."

How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?

"You will have two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, 10-11 weeks apart. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine, " says the CCG.