Coronavirus update and advice

NHS advice

Read the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (Covid-19).

Government advice and restrictions 

The government publishes the latest coronavirus guidance and support on the gov.uk website. This includes details of the latest restrictions.

Bolton Council

Check the Bolton Council website for the latest coronavirus information on a range of topics including coronavirus testing, business and community support, education and childcare, and services affected by coronavirus. 

Support

If you are struggling because you need to stay at home and have no family or friends to support you with shopping or other help please contact Bolton Council on 01204 337221. The opening hours are:

  • Monday to Friday from 8.30am – 5.30pm
  • Saturdays from 9.00am – 1.30pm

More information.

Are you recovering from Covid-19?

If you have had Covid-19, you may still be experiencing some effects that are impacting on your quality of life. Alternatively, you might be supporting a family member or friend following their Covid-19 illness which may be challenging.

Find advice on how to manage some of the common effects of Covid-19, or how you can support someone’s recovery, on the Your COVID Recovery website.

Wellbeing and mental health

Feeling down, lonely, frustrated, anxious or worried are normal reactions at the moment.

You might feel concerned about your finances, your health, relationships or relatives.

Find out what mental health support is available in Bolton.

This guide to mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus has been created for people in Bolton is full of lots of useful advice to support yourself and others,

Public Health England has put together an easy read guide to looking after your mind and body during this difficult time.

Online counselling and emotional well-being support for children and young people aged 11 to 25 in Bolton is available from Kooth

Children

Alder Hey Children's NHS Foundation Trust has created an animation and fact sheet to help children understand what coronavirus is, the importance of hand washing and how to stop the virus spreading.

Remember to:

  • Wash hands - keep washing your hands regularly
  • Cover face - wear a face covering in enclosed spaces
  • Make space - stay at least 2 metres apart or 1 metre with a face covering or other precautions

 

We hope this will help you to understand what to expect from the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Bolton.

Our approach

You’ll have heard about the Covid-19 vaccine which is being rolled out across the country.

Led nationally by NHS England, this is the biggest vaccination programme our country has ever seen. Arrangements to get everyone vaccinated are moving very fast and are subject to many last minute changes.

Those set to receive the vaccine have been placed in priority order. This has been decided by an independent advisory group called the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) which regularly advises health departments on immunisation issues, such as flu and most recently the Covid-19 vaccine.

We are working hard in Bolton to get everyone vaccinated who is eligible.

These groups have been selected as they are considered to be at the highest risk of death should they contract COVID-19.

The full list includes:

  • residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  • all those 75 years of age and over
  • all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals
  • all those 65 years of age and over
  • all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality
  • all those 60 years of age and over
  • all those 55 years of age and over
  • all those 50 years of age and over

In Bolton, we started vaccinating on December 15, 2020 with the over 80s, as advised by the JCVI. We specifically started in an area that had the most of this age group AND a suitable location to administer the vaccine – we have to follow strict criteria set out by NHS England.

This is a huge task for us and we have a lot of people to get through. It will take some time to work through the list, so please bear with us. But we’d like to assure you that if you are in one of the priority groups, you will be offered the vaccine when doses are made available to us.

We know that you will have many questions surrounding the vaccination programme and we have tried to answer some of the most common ones.

Your questions answered

The most commonly asked question we’ve received is ‘when will I receive my vaccine?’

If you are in any of the nine priority groups you will be contacted by the NHS. When we know that a batch of vaccines is being delivered, you will be invited for your appointment. Your invitation may be by text, telephone or by letter and you could be asked to attend your own GP practice or another location.

Here in Bolton, we’re doing our best to reach everyone as soon as possible.

Measures have been taken to keep you safe and to reduce the risk of infection, including social distancing, hand washing and sanitisation of equipment.  

Our GP practices are working very hard to get the vaccine to everybody who needs it, while at the same time dealing with other patients’ health concerns. If you need to contact your GP about anything other than the vaccine please do so in the usual ways. If you are waiting to hear about your vaccination, please wait to be contacted and try to avoid contacting them for updates.

Don’t worry – we will get in touch with everyone when we know the vaccine is being delivered.

You’re wondering why a friend, neighbour or someone from another part of town has been called for their vaccination before you.

Everyone is working really hard to get the vaccination programme rolled out to those who need it most. The delivery of the vaccines is being led by NHS England and as soon as we receive deliveries we are working fast to get people vaccinated. We’re unable to vaccinate everyone over 80 with the first delivery, but we are working as fast as we can. There is more than one vaccine available and the storage, transportation and time frame for using the doses is dependent on which vaccine we receive. We don’t want to waste any opportunity to vaccinate people, so as soon as we know that vaccines are being delivered we are contacting people for their appointment. The vaccination programme is subject to last minute changes, but every area of Bolton will be covered.

Where will I have my vaccination?

More vaccination sites are being introduced in order to provide you with a choice of where to get vaccinated. You could be contacted by your GP practice, either by text, phone or letter to make an appointment at your local vaccination centre. This could either be at your own GP practice or another site in Bolton.

Large vaccination sites have also been selected so they can vaccinate thousands of people each week. You may have already received a letter in the post giving you the option to attend a large site – around 30 minutes’ drive away. You can take up this offer or wait until you’re invited by your local GP. More local sites are likely to be introduced, including some managed by pharmacies, so that more people can be vaccinated as quickly as possible.

If you’ve already received your first dose, please wait to be contacted about your second. You may already have an appointment arranged – please keep to those arrangements. You will be contacted soon if you haven’t received any invitation yet.

Please note: our mobile teams will get to all care homes and anyone who is housebound will be contacted so we can make arrangements to vaccinate them at home.

What to expect when you have your vaccine

When it is time for you to receive the vaccine you may receive a text message, phone call or letter. This could be direct from your GP practice or a central NHS organisation.

You’ll be given an appointment and it’s important that you arrive on time. While it’s tempting to turn up early, appointments are running to a strict schedule. This is so we can manage social distancing and help to minimise queueing or waiting.

On arrival you will be greeted by a marshal who will take your details. Don’t forget your face covering!

You will then go through a short medical screening process to make sure you’re fit to have the vaccine and you will be asked to give consent – to make sure you are happy to proceed with the vaccine.

The vaccination itself takes a matter of seconds – this will be done in the top of your arm.

Depending on which vaccine you receive, you may be asked to take a seat in a waiting area for 15 minutes, for observation. Then you’ll be free to go!

How does the vaccine work?

The vaccine encourages your body to make antibodies, which will be used to try and protect your body from the virus. Both of the current COVID-19 vaccines are ‘inactivated vaccines’, which means they cannot give you Covid. Vaccination will significantly reduce the chances of you catching the virus and becoming seriously unwell if you were to catch it.

Even if you’ve already had COVID-19, the vaccine will ensure that your immunity to the disease is as strong as possible.

Can I choose which vaccine I get?

There are currently two vaccines available in the UK and both give very high protection against COVID-19 and reduce the chances of getting seriously ill. Both require two doses, 12 weeks apart. The vaccine you are offered will very much rely on the type we are supplied with and we won’t necessarily know which vaccine we’ll receive until a day or two before. Our ultimate aim is to vaccinate as many people as possible within a short timeframe, which means there is no choice of vaccine.

Do the vaccines contain animal ingredients?

Both vaccines that are currently being used do not contain any animal ingredients or egg. The ingredients have been reviewed by regulators and ingredients on both vaccines can be found here:

Both vaccines are recommended by the British Islamic Medical Association. Read more.

Who gets the vaccine first?  

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The Government has confirmed that the vast majority of vaccinations administered in this initial phase will be prioritised for those 80 years of age and over, and care home workers.

How will patients be invited for a vaccination?

When it is the right time people will be contacted to make their appointments. For most people they will receive a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number. Some services are currently also phoning and texting patients to invite them in. 

We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we would ask people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they are contacted. The NHS is working hard to make sure those at greatest risk are offered the vaccine first.

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, have said this vaccine is safe and highly effective, 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.

Will the vaccine work with the new strain?

There is no evidence currently that the new strain will be resistant to the vaccine we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Scientists are looking now in detail at the characteristics of the virus in relation to the vaccine. Viruses, such as the winter flu virus, often branch into different strains but these small variations rarely render vaccines ineffective.

Can people pick what vaccine they want?  

Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while.

Can I get one privately?  

No. Vaccinations will only be available through the NHS for the moment. Anyone who claims to be able to provide you with a vaccine for a fee is likely to be committing a crime and should be reported to the Police and/or Local Trading Standards. 

Should people who have already had Covid get vaccinated?   

Yes, if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI. The MHRA have looked at this and decided that getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t. 

Will the flu vaccine provide protection against Covid-19?

The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. Anyone who is eligible for both vaccines should have them both. Likewise, the Covid-19 vaccine will not protect against the flu. 

We would always encourage anyone who is eligible but not yet taken up their flu jab to do so as soon as possible.

Do I need to leave a space between having the flu vaccine and having the Covid vaccine? 

It is not essential to leave time between the flu and Covid vaccine but it is recommended that there should be a gap of a week.

If a household has a priority group member, such as an NHS frontline worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?   

These decisions are for the JCVI. Their current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.

How long will the Pfizer vaccine be effective for? 

We expect these vaccines to work for at least a year – if not longer. This will be constantly monitored. 

Are there any groups that shouldn’t have the vaccine? 

There are MHRA recommendations for some groups to not have the vaccine – these are precautionary due to a lack of data, rather than because there is an expected issue. These include:

  • Pregnant women
  • Women who are breast feeding
  • Women planning pregnancy within the next few months
  • People with history of a severe allergy to food items or medicines i.e. those who carry epi pens including those with contraindications to penicillin based medicines

Are there any side effects?  

These are important details which the MHRA always consider when assessing candidate vaccines for use.  

For this vaccine, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the over 43,000 people involved in trials.  

All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA. 

More information on possible side effects.

When will you publish vaccine ingredients?  

A detailed review of the vaccine and its ingredients have been provided by the MHRA.

The British Islamic Medical Association has produced a helpful guide for the Muslim community. 

Sadly, we are aware that some people are receiving suspicious calls and text messages offering the Covid-19 vaccination.

To protect yourself and your family members from fraud and criminals, remember:

  • The vaccine is only available on the NHS for free to people in priority groups, and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. Anyone offering a paid-for vaccine is committing a crime. 
  • The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and never ask for payment or for your bank details.
  • At the moment we are also not making house calls to deliver or discuss the vaccine. Anyone offering this now is committing a crime.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.

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