Don’t worry if not contacted about vaccine this month, NHS chief tells over-80s

7 December 2020, 08:32

An NHS pharmacy technician at the Royal Free Hospital, London, shows how to administer the Pfizer vaccine at a staff training session.
An NHS pharmacy technician at the Royal Free Hospital, London, shows how to administer the Pfizer vaccine at a staff training session. Picture: PA

By Joe Cook

The CEO of NHS Providers has said the “vast, vast majority” of people will be vaccinated next year and people over 80 should not worry if they haven't been contacted yet.

“People just need to hang fire and wait for a proactive communication,” Chris Hopson said, adding: “Don't worry, we haven't forgotten you”.

Mr Hopson’s comments come as the UK prepares to begin administering the first Covid-19 vaccine from Tuesday.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has dubbed it “V-Day”, with people aged 80 and older, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk at the front of the queue.

Read more: No doubt over safety of Covid vaccine, says head of UK regulator

Although the elderly are at the front of the queue, Mr Hopson said “one thing that we don't want people to get anxious about or concerned about is 'Where's my letter?' in December."

The public should not “expect anything over the next few days because the reality is, as I said, that for the vast, vast, vast majority of people this will be done in January, February, March,” he added.

"I'm sure there will be communications over the next few weeks that will tell people how quickly we are getting through the over-80s, and there will be plenty of communications to say, at the right point, if you haven't had a letter then you should talk to your GP, but we are many weeks away from that.”

Read more: Queen could receive Covid-19 vaccine 'within weeks'

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people, as people need to receive two doses.

There are 800,000 doses in the first tranche, meaning 400,000 people will be vaccinated initially.

Pictures show the arrival of a batch of vaccines at Croydon University Hospital in south London over the weekend, with similar scenes unfolding all around the country.

NHS Providers deputy chief executive Saffron Cordery said many hospital hubs had received their allocation of the initial 800,000 doses, and she expected there would be up to four million doses in the country by the end of December.

Read more: What ingredients are in the Pfizer Covid vaccine?

Despite the promising vaccine news, the UK’s four chief medical officers have warned the jabs will only have a "marginal impact" on hospital numbers over the winter.

The four warned festive gatherings would likely put additional pressure on the NHS and other care services.

In a letter written to colleagues, they cautioned: "Although the very welcome news about vaccines means that we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine deployment will have only a marginal impact in reducing numbers coming into the health service with Covid over the next three months.”

"The actions and self-discipline of the whole population during lockdowns and other restrictions have helped reduce the peak and in most parts of the four nations hospital numbers are likely to fall over the next few weeks, but not everywhere."