The report of the Joint Senior Responsible Officers (SROs), Bradford and Craven COVID-19 Vaccine Progamme, Document “S”, outlines the progress and challenges to delivering a whole population COVID-19 vaccination programme at scale and pace. The Vaccination programme aims are to vaccinate the entire over 50 years old population that are registered with General Practices within the Bradford and Craven district as quickly and safely as possible (by March 2021) and the population over 18 years of age by July 2021.
Members are asked to note the information provided, the proposed trajectories and the timescales.
(Nancy O’Neill / Karen Dawber – 01274 432313)
The report of the Joint Senior Responsible Officers (SROs), Bradford and Craven COVID-19 Vaccine Programme, Document “S”, outlined the progress and challenges to delivering a whole population COVID-19 vaccination programme at scale and pace.
The report provided an introduction to the Vaccine Programme and included information on: -
In recognition of the fast moving nature of current events surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and the vaccine programme since the agenda publication Members were provided with a verbal update to the report at the meeting.
It was reported that the vaccination programme aimed to vaccinate the entire over 50 years old population that were registered with General Practices within the Bradford and Craven district as quickly and safely as possible (by March 2021) and the population over 18 years of age by July 2021.
The Chief Nurse (Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust) explained that she had never seen a programme come together so effectively. Within a matter of weeks, it had been possible to deliver the vaccine in fourteen locations throughout the District and an additional mass vaccination centre would also be opened at Jacobs Well in Bradford on 1 February 2021. It was expected that the biggest challenge would be to reach all communities to ensure that everybody had the opportunity to receive the vaccine and that people had the correct information to enable them to make informed decisions.
It was acknowledged that the roll out rate of the vaccine had been outstanding,
however, Members believed it would have been useful to understand the number of residents who had been vaccinated, reported in Document “S” broken down into cohorts. They were also concerns that the report did not refer to vaccine supply issues.
Following presentation of the report a number of questions/comments were raised to which the following responses were provided: -
· The decision to begin the vaccination programme with elderly people as opposed to people in the working age bracket, who may be more likely to spread infection, was to protect those who would be most vulnerable. It was not known if the virus could be spread by those inoculated and the transmission rates were being investigated.
· There were well documented issues about supply of the vaccine and although supplies were being delivered those deliveries could be at short notice. The model adopted was to primarily deliver the vaccine through the Primary Care Network, however, capacity could be increased with the use of facilities such as the vaccination centre at Jacobs Well, Bradford.
· It was difficult to split those immunised into additional cohorts as a resident would often fall in a number of groups.
· There was no evidence to support reports in the media that supplies were being halved in the District and distributed elsewhere in the country.
· Due to the fragility of the vaccine supplies and, because the entirety of the consignment must be used immediately it was opened it, had not been possible to vaccinate an individual in their own home without wasting large quantities. That volatility had now been resolved and plans were in place to begin to deliver the vaccine to house bound residents very shortly. It was expected that all of the first cohorts would have been immunised by 15 February 2021.
· It was not possible to demand that care workers had the vaccination but clear messages had been communicated to all staff that they had a duty of care to residents or patients. Information had been provided to enable those workers to make the right decision for themselves and others. As the decision whether to receive immunisation was private no patient or resident had the right to ask a care worker if they had been vaccinated.
· There had been many vaccine trials undertaken under stringent conditions. All vaccines had satisfied strict Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) criteria and undergone rigorous safety checks before being licensed for use.
· It had been possible to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 relatively quickly as adaptations were able to be made to vaccines already in development against the Ebola virus. A significant amount of finance had been made available from governments and individuals and the knowledge, technology and finance had come together very quickly to provide a vaccine solution.
· There were cohorts of anti-vaccinators both nationally and internationally who continued to be a challenge. It was felt that it would be very difficult to influence those with extremely strong views. The communications strategy would emphasise the need for all people to be immunised and national, regional and local resources would be utilised to get that message to residents.
· Additional Government funding had been received in the District to fight disinformation around the virus and the money would be used to strengthen existing communications strategies and carry out promotional activities. There were concerns that some younger people who felt they would not be adversely impacted by the virus, who, therefore, may be reluctant to take up the vaccine, must be made aware of their social responsibility to prevent the spread of infection to other more vulnerable people.
· The vaccine programme was to prevent complications and death and the cohorts had been categorised to prioritise those most at risk first. Primary Care Networks (PCNs) knew those categories and would send messages or arrange appointments to match the available supplies to those residents. Some people would receive invitations to attend the national mass vaccination centres or may choose to access via their GP surgeries. There was also the provision of open booking systems for care home staff or vulnerable workers to access electronic bookings systems.
· Sufficient vaccine was available to ensure all people in the first four priority cohorts received their vaccination by 15 February 2021.
· Experienced pharmacists and medical professionals were able to maximise the doses of the vaccine received through good vaccination techniques and experience.
· There were few residents who had failed to attend appointments but those who had were given the opportunity to rebook at their choice of location. People who had initially refused the vaccine were contacted again to encourage take up of the vaccine.
· People with severe disabilities who were not living in a care home setting, and their carers, would be provided with the vaccination as a higher priority.
· The potential to provide the vaccines at locations to encourage take up of the vaccine by particular communities was being considered. It had not been possible to do that initially as the use of Care Quality Commission (CQC) regulated NHS properties were required. There was now more flexibility and talks were being held with religious leaders to consider additional facilities and to encourage high profile people to spread messages within communities.
· Vaccination reserve lists had been utilised and professionals had worked additional hours to prevent waste. The Pfizer vaccine must be used within three days. Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation guidance must be followed, however, it would have been morally and ethically wrong to waste supplies of the vaccine and in exceptional cases, to prevent that waste, flexibility had been applied to that guidance.
A Member reported that she had witnessed that people were eager to attend vaccination appointments and were attending with very short notice to facilitate the best use of supplies. She also reported the efficient and exemplary service and the compassion which had been shown to residents. An example of a very concerned deaf person being reassured and provided with a transparent visor whilst at the appointment, was provided.
A retired GP returning as a vaccinator, who was also a Member of the Committee, reported that he had not witnessed a reluctance to take up the vaccine. He explained that he was seeing on a daily basis that people were willing and grateful to receive immunisation and that vulnerable residents were being encouraged by their families. It was stressed that those positive messages should be communicated. That view was shared by Members who acknowledged their responsibility as Councillors to provide assurance and communicate the necessity to become immunised. It was hoped that the additional funding would enable that message to be spread to all communities in the District.
That the Joint Senior Responsible Officers, Bradford and Craven COVID-19 Vaccine Programme be thanked for their attendance and commended for their outstanding work on the vaccination programme.
ACTION: Overview and Scrutiny Lead