Thank you to more than 500 of you who filled in our survey this week; your experiences highlighted that by the time we closed our survey on 14 October, only 35% of those eligible for their third dose of Covid-19 vaccine have had it. We took your feedback to NHS England who told us last night that eligible patients should receive a text or a letter in the next few days which will confirm eligibility and that you should be able to use the text or letter to book your appointment. They have also confirmed that thanks to you telling us about the difficulties you have been having, they are in the midst of a targeted communication programme within the GP community, reminding them of their responsibility to provide this. We know that this is not good enough and will continue to work with the NHS teams to get this sorted out. Please do keep letting us know how you are getting on by emailing [email protected] or via social media.
On 2 October the Health Secretary Sajid Javid wrongly claimed on BBC Breakfast that the “vast, vast majority” of immunocompromised people had been offered the third dose. As our research shows, this is definitely not the case, two weeks after this statement was made. Our survey highlighted that 54% of kidney patients eligible for their third vaccine had not had any contact from or with the NHS whatsoever by 14 October, and of those who had been in contact with their GP or specialist, 79% had experienced difficulties arranging their vaccination appointment. Just 33% of respondents have been proactively contacted by healthcare professionals regarding their vaccination.
Fiona Loud, Policy Director at Kidney Care UK, said: “Since the JCVI made a clear recommendation for a third primary dose for this group at the beginning of September, there has been a woeful lack of preparation to make sure IT systems, communications and processes were in place to implement this important piece of protection. The result is that too many people have still not been offered their third vaccine and in the vast majority of cases when people ask their GP or specialist about their vaccine they are met with confusion or denial. This group are the most at risk from Covid-19 and yet are the least protected by their vaccines – and right now they feel incredibly let down.”
Here are the steps as to how the process should be working:
- Hospital consultants have been asked to check which of their patients are eligible for a third dose. If the hospital has a vaccination hub onsite, it is recommended people are invited for the vaccination at the hospital site and the consultant should recommend the timing of when that should happen. NHS England assure us that this check for eligible patients has now been largely completed.
- If the hospital does not have a vaccination hub, then consultants are asked to write to the person’s GP who can then organise for the person to receive the vaccination via their local Primary Care Network (PCN) site. These PCN sites are separate to the mass vaccination clinics that you can access via the National Booking Service or 119. Some of you have had these letters already and they should be able to be used to get your vaccination. Further letters and texts are now being sent out so you may get the message more than once.
- GPs have also been asked to check their patient lists for people who are eligible for the third dose and write to offer them a third dose via their Primary Care Network (PCN) site. If the GP practices does not organise vaccinations themselves, they should refer their eligible patients to the local NHS commissioning organisation who will organise the vaccination at a different site.
Therefore, you may receive an invite either from your hospital consultant or your GP, depending on your local arrangements. If your GP is unsure about how you can access a third dose, you might like to show them this NHS Letter. The JCVI advise an 8 week gap between second and third dose, unless for example someone was imminently going to have a transplant and be immunosuppressed. A third dose will be an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna by preference but Astra Zeneca can be offered if either of the other two are not available.
Our Covid-19 website continues to be updated with the latest information as we get it.
Thank you once again for sharing your experiences with us. We know how frustrating this is. You are not alone.