15 Feb 2021

The NHS has today started vaccinating people aged 65 to 69 and those who are clinically vulnerable against Covid-19 with over one million people already invited to book a jab.

GP practices in St Helens have today begun vaccinating those in priority groups 5 and 6 - namely people aged 65-69 and people with long term conditions that mean they are clinically vulnerable including those with diabetes, learning disabilities and severe mental health issues.

Dr Hilary Flett, GP vaccination lead for the vaccine roll out in St Helens was present at the Saints stadium today: "This is an exciting day as we have now met the target of offering a first vaccine to everyone in priority groups 1-4 and hit over 15 million people across the country - something that has been a huge logistical challenge. 

"Our 33 GP practices have worked amazingly well together to deliver this service, along with the mass vaccination centre and pharmacies and I am very humbled to be part of such an amazing achievement.  We now need to keep our vaccine supply flowing as we continue to work our way through the priority groups.

"I would also remind patients to make an appointment to get vaccinated as soon as they are called, and come at the right time so we can manage our clinic safely and ensure social distancing.  If you are unable to attend, please cancel your appointment so we can offer it to someone else.

"Also please remember that the vaccine does not stop transmission so even when you've had your jab, please continue to socically distance, wear a face covering and wash your hands."

Mary Jones, age 69 from Haresfinch, was one of the first people to be vaccinated today.  She praised the vaccine effort and the smooth running of the clinic:  "I was quite emotional today to receive my vaccine and see this as thefirst step in getting life back to normal."

Her words were echoed by Ian Blackhall from Thatto Heath: "My wife has COPD and has already had her vaccine. I thought I'd have to wait ages for mine as was in the 65-69 age group but got called by my GP practice a few days ago and here I am.  I'm impressed with how well organised the vaccination clinic has been and I'm hoping that with everyone getting vaccinated, this gets us out of this situation before too long."

Almost 1.2 million letters have landed on doorsteps at the weekend asking people to log on to the national booking service at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination with another 1.2 million due to arrive this week.  Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

Those who receive a letter can choose from more than 100 large scale vaccination centres, around 200 pharmacy services a well as their local GP vaccination service.

In the next phase which begins today, GP led vaccination sites will also focus on the clinically vulnerable from cohort 6 because of the relationship between general practice and those with long term conditions, and continuity of care.

Should somebody aged 65 to 69 want to wait to be called by their local GP vaccination service or who have already received the jab they do not need to respond to their invitation.

The JCVI defines clinically vulnerable people as those with:

  • chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma
  • chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease
  • chronic neurological disease including epilepsy
  • Down’s syndrome
  • severe and profound learning disability
  • diabetes
  • solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers
  • immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • asplenia and splenic dysfunction
  • morbid obesity
  • severe mental illness