Covid-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions – Number 1

The Forest of Dean PCN is made up of all 11 GP Surgeries in the Forest of Dean.  We will be opening one hub in Cinderford at the old Health Centre on Dockham Road (adjacent to the large Co-op) for the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to the population of the Forest of Dean.  We await clarity on when the vaccines will be delivered but anticipate vaccinating the first cohort of over 80’s between 22 and 24 December 2020 with the vaccine programme starting again in January 2021.  We are being governed by NHS England and currently can only offer the vaccine to the general population over the age of 80.  We will be using the Pfizer vaccine at this stage.

Please remember this is a healthcare facility, you must wear a mask or face covering and do not come in if you have symptoms of Covid-19.  The vaccine will be given by a trained healthcare professional but probably not your usual doctor or nurse.

Please do not call your Surgery for information, please see below which may answer your queries and keep an eye on the local press, your Surgery website or – here are our most frequently asked questions:

How will I know it’s my turn for a vaccine?

Your Surgery will contact you.  Please do not contact your Surgery to enquire when you will know.  Contact from your Surgery may be by phone, text, email or letter.  You will receive some written information explaining what to do and where to park etc.  We will contact everyone eligible in your household; please do not assume others in your household will be eligible for the vaccine at this stage. For example, at the moment we cannot vaccinate a spouse or partner who is under 80 years old at the same time as someone in the same household who over 80 and eligible.

Will I get a vaccine?

With the vaccine numbers proposed for delivery to the Forest of Dean, all Practices will be allocated a small number so they can contact patients and invite them in during this first week of vaccinating (22 to 24 December 2020).  If you do not hear anything, you have not been forgotten – everyone over 80 will be contacted and given an appointment which may not be until January 2021.  We will be vaccinating everyone as directed by NHS England and in the age/occupation groups they allow us to.  We cannot change this.

How many appointments will I need?

You will need 2 appointments; the initial vaccine appointment and then another booster vaccine 21 (but no later than 28) days afterwards.  Please think about this when you are booking your appointments as it is vital you can attend both.

Can I just turn up?

No.  Everyone attending must have a pre-booked appointment, you will be turned away if you do not have a pre-booked appointment.

I am taking my wife/husband/family member to their appointment. Can I have my vaccine at the same time?

Not at this initial stage.  If you and your family member do fall into the same age group, it may be possible to arrange this for you at a later date.  For now, it is just those invited by their Surgery.

Can everyone have the vaccine?

If you have any of the following (applicable to any age group) through the time the vaccine programme is running you should not have the vaccine, under these circumstances you should contact your Surgery:

  • If you have any Covid-19 symptoms
  • If you have had the Flu vaccination or any other vaccinations 7 days before your Covid-19 vaccination is due
  • If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant in the next 3 months
  • If you are under 18 years of age
  • Experienced Anaphylaxis immediately after another vaccine or immediately after ingesting food

The vaccine has been tested on 44000 people in 6 countries; it has no animal products and is safe for those with latex allergy. It is suitable for those who are immunosuppressed and Anaphylaxis, despite being in the news is very rare indeed.

Will I get side effects?

The vaccine is not a ‘live’ vaccine; you cannot contract Covid-19 from it.  However, it is very common to have mild side effects from all vaccines and this is no exception.  Some people will not be affected but you may experience any of the following for up to 7 days:

  • A sore arm around 80% of people
  • Tiredness around 60% of people
  • Slight headache around 50% of people
  • Muscle aches around 30% of people
  • Temperature around 10% of people

How long will it take?

We now know patients will have to be clinically observed for 15 minutes after the vaccine so you will need to stay at the clinic after your vaccine; please arrive on time (not early) for your appointment and you should get through the whole process in about 20 minutes.  Please wear short sleeves under your outer clothing so access to your arm is quick and easy.

Where do I park?

We are asking all those patients who are having a lift to the clinic to be dropped off by the entrance of the Health Centre. The person bringing them should then drive and wait in the Cinderford Rugby Club car park for approximately 20 minutes before coming back to collect

If you are driving yourself and are not very mobile you may be able to park in designated spaces near the entrance to the Health Centre – same for blue badge holders

If you do not have any mobility issues, please park at the Rugby Club and walk down

PCSO’s and the Fire Service will be directing traffic during the initial clinics running 22 to 24 December; please follow their guidance. Please be mindful of shoppers, this is a very busy week for the Co-op.

If I am in a wheelchair can a Carer come in with me?

Yes, they can help you.  They will need to wear a mask for face covering.

I am housebound, what do I do?

Plans are underway for the provision of a home visiting service to administer the vaccine at home to those who are genuinely housebound or for whom it would be extremely difficult due to their medical condition(s) to attend the clinic.  This will not be run from the Surgery or by Surgery staff and we currently await further information.  If you are genuinely housebound please let us know when you are contacted so you can be added to the housebound list.

I don’t drive, can I get hospital transport?

Unfortunately we are unable to book transport to take you to get your vaccine. You will need to make your own arrangements with family members or friends to get yourself to and from the centre.  There are some not for profit organisations in the Forest of Dean providing transport too.

Why can’t I have the vaccine at my GP Surgery given to me by my own GP?

The vaccine requires specialised transportation and handling once it has been despatched from the central vaccine supply centre.  It also comes in boxes of 975 vaccines which have to be used within a very short space of time.  Your GP surgery simply does not have the facilities to either store or administer this amount of vaccines before the shelf life expires and the vaccines are wasted.

My relative has dementia and does not understand social distancing or wearing a face mask, what do I do?

Try and request an appointment at the end of the clinic time when there are less people around to reduce the stress for your relative. Speak with the Receptionist at the clinic when you arrive and he/she will help you.

I have other queries about the vaccine not covered above. Who do I ask?

This is a new vaccine and updated information is becoming available all the time.  If you do have other concerns or queries we ask that you wait until you are called before raising these with your GP Practice.  They will then be able to give you the most up to date information available at that time.  Information is available on the website.

I’m not in the over 80’s age group, when will I get my vaccine?

The situation is changing daily and currently we are unable to give any information about when each cohort can expect to be called for their vaccine.  We will be prioritising strictly by the groups outlined by the Government.  As soon as any further information becomes available, this will be shared on the website.  Please do not contact your Surgery as they will be unable to tell you.

I don’t want to have the vaccine

If you have decided that you do not want to have the vaccine, just let your GP Practice know when they contact you so they can take you off the list and then not contact you again. You can, of course, change your mind at any time in the future.

This mass vaccination programme is frequently changing; please keep your eye on your Surgery website to go straight to for updates.  We will also try and include as much information as possible in the Forester Newspaper.