Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine

COVID-19 vaccine – information for people living in Essex and Suffolk

Latest news  

(Update 27 February) We have some slots available this weekend and next week at some of our vaccination centres, if you are aged 64 and over and would like to have the vaccine, please book online at nhs.uk/covidvaccination or phone 119.

If you are an adult carer and in receipt of carer’s allowance, you can also now book into our vaccination centres via the national booking system (address above) or by ringing 119, if you have not yet received a letter inviting you to book, please bring confirmation you are in receipt of carer’s allowance. 

There are still a few  slots available this weekend at:

  • Gainsborough Sports Centre (Sunday)
  • Clacton Hospital (Saturday

There are slots available next week at: 

  • Gainsborough Sports Centre 
  • Clacton Hospital 
  • Columbine Centre, Walton-on-the-Naze

Helpline – if you are in one of the eligible groups, live in Essex and Suffolk, and need further help to book an appointment, you can ring 0344 2573 961 (open 10am-4pm, local rate).

Please do not turn up at a vaccination site without an appointment and do not book an appointment if you are not in an eligible group as you will not receive a vaccine until it is your turn. 

About the programme

The NHS is vaccinating people in Essex and Suffolk against coronavirus as part of the biggest immunisation programme in NHS history.

The vaccination programme is continuing at speed and is being accelerated across both counties.

Who can receive the vaccine

The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus in priority groups one to six.

It’s being given to:

  • people aged 65 and over
  • people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Overview

Health and care staff are pulling out all the stops to open as many centres as possible as supplies become available. We now have hospital vaccination hubs, more than 40 GP-led services, 11 large vaccination centres and more opening in coming weeks.

There are also six community pharmacies giving the vaccine in Essex and Suffolk by appointment through the national booking system.

Housebound vaccinations are underway and being carried out via the GP-led vaccination services. People who are not able to travel to a vaccination site will be contacted before a clinician attends their home. Please do not let an unauthorised person into your home.

We are now inviting anyone aged 65 and over to book an appointment, either online at nhs.uk/covidvaccination or by phoning 119. 

For all other age groups, the NHS will contact people when it is your turn, please do not contact your GP practice for the vaccine. 

For most people this will be a call or text from their GP or a letter from the national NHS. The letter includes all the information you will need to book appointments, including your NHS number.

Remember: the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS.

The NHS will never ask for:

  • your bank account or card details
  • your pin or banking password
  • copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips

If you think you have been a victim of fraud or identify theft, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Information on the Essex and Suffolk roll out

All information on Essex and Suffolk will be posted on this page as the new centres go live. Our latest slides on the roll out in Essex are available here. 

New larger scale vaccination centres

There are currently eleven NHS large vaccination centre in Essex and Suffolk. These can give hundreds of vaccines a day, thousands a week, scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies. They are all giving the Oxford/AstraZenaca vaccine. More will follow over the coming weeks. Please only attend if you have an appointment and do not arrive early.

  • The Lodge, Runwell in Wickford
  • Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich
  • Harlow Leisurezone
  • Chelmsford City Racecourse
  • JobServe Community Stadium, Colchester
  • The Cliffs Pavilion, Southend-on-Sea
  • Clacton Hospital
  • Alastair Farquharson Centre at Thurrock Community Hospital
  • The Mill Arts and Events Centre, Rayleigh
  • Chevington Close, Bury St Edmunds
  • The Columbine Centre, Walton-on-the-Naze

Please note at Chelmsford City Racecourse there is a four to five minute walk – with a slight incline – from the car park to the vaccination centre (approximately 400 metres). There are golf buggies and wheelchairs available to assist people with limited mobility. Further details are available on our site information page)

The new centres are being opened as the NHS rapidly accelerates the number of sites it can give the crucial first dose of the vaccine.

Please note: slots are opening regularly at all centres – if you have received a letter inviting you to receive the vaccine – please book in as soon as possible following the instructions in the letter.

People aged 65-69 who live up to a 45-minute drive from the centres have now been sent letters with the option of choosing to go to a vaccination centre or waiting to be contacted shortly by their local GP-led vaccination service.

There are more than 1,500 vaccination sites nationally with the programme continuing to accelerate.

The large scale vaccination centres are treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues, conference centres and NHS sites, as supplies of vaccine are distributed.

Hospital hubs

We currently have one hospital hub administering vaccines in Essex – Orsett Hospital. The remaining five hospital hubs have stopped vaccinating at the moment and will resume when second doses start. These are Basildon University Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, Southend Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Colchester Hospital. 

There are two hospital hubs in Suffolk. These are Ipswich Hospital and West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmonds which has converted a floor in an office block into a staff vaccination hub.

GP vaccination services

Family doctors and other primary care staff are vaccinating their most vulnerable patients –  there are now more than 40 GP-led services across the two counties.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff are working alongside GPs to protect the community against coronavirus. They are giving the vaccine to patients considered at highest risk, people aged 80 and over as well as care home residents and staff.

People in mid and south Essex are being invited to the following 25 locations: Puzey Family Practice in Rochford; Danbury Medical Centre; Highland Surgery in Leigh-on-Sea; Stifford Clays Health Centre in Grays; Chadwell Medical Centre, Grays; The Brentwood Centre; Audley Mills Surgery in Rayleigh; Maldon District Council Offices; The Valkyrie Surgery in Westcliff-On-Sea; The Nevendon Centre, Wickford; Emmanuel Archer Hall, Billericay; Holy Trinity RC Parish Church Hall and George Hurd Centre, Basildon; The Paddocks Community Centre, Canvey Island; Whitley House Surgery, Chelmsford; Pump House Surgery, Earls Colne; Benfleet Clinic, Benfleet; Fern House Surgery, Witham; Crouch Vale Medical Centre, South Woodham Ferrers; Rivermead Gate Medical Centre, Chelmsford; Saxon Hall, Southend; Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend; Salvation Army, Shoeburyness; Melbourne House Surgery, Chelmsford and St Michael’s Hospital, Braintree

In West Essex, five vaccination services have opened: Stansted Surgery in Stansted Mountfitchet, Spencer Close St Margaret’s Hospital in  Epping, Lister Medical Centre in Harlow, Lord Butler Leisure Centre, in Saffron Walden and Buckhurst Way Clinic in Buckhurst Hill.

In Suffolk and north east Essex, there are 20 sites open. Six locations went live in December, two in west Suffolk (Woolpit and Bury St Edmonds), two in Ipswich  and two in north east Essex (Clacton and Colchester). Fourteen more sites have opened this week (w/c 11 January), four in west Suffolk, nine in Ipswich and east Suffolk and one in north east Essex. These are Fryatt Hospital, Harwich; Jubilee Centre, Mildenhall; Constable Country Medical Practice, East Bergholt; Debenham Leisure Centre, The Epicentre, Haverhill Research Park; Hadleigh Health Centre, Hardwicke House Surgery Cornard branch, Sudbury; Lavenham branch, Long Melford Surgery; Saxmundham Health; Sizewell Sports & Social Club, Leiston; The Grove Medical Centre, Felixstowe; The Mix, Stowmarket; Trinity Park Conference Centre, Ipswich and Woodbridge Community Hall.

Community pharmacies

The following community pharmacies are now offering the vaccine by appointment:

  • Calvalry Road Pharmacy, Colchester
  • Holland Pharmacy, Holland-on-Sea
  • Audley Mills Community Pharmacy, Rayleigh
  • Aqua Pharmacy, Duke Street, Ipswich
  • Newmarket Racecourse
  • Long Melford Pharmacy, Long Melford

Be aware of scams

The COVID-19 vaccine will always be available free of charge. The NHS will never ask you to share bank details to confirm your identity or pay for a vaccine.

Information 

For all the latest information on the national vaccination programme, please visit nhs.uk/CovidVaccine

How the COVID-19 vaccine is given

The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm. It’s given as 2 doses.

When the 2nd dose will be given

The latest evidence suggests the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for most people for up to 3 months.

As a result of this evidence, when you can have the 2nd dose has changed. This is also to make sure as many people can have the vaccine as possible.

The 2nd dose was previously 21 days after having the 1st dose, but has now changed to 12 weeks after. If you:

  • Have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose before Monday 4 January, keep your appointment
  • Have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose after Monday 4 January, the NHS will contact you about when you’ll have your 2nd dose
  • Are due to have your 1st dose after Wednesday 30 December, you’ll be given your 2nd dose 12 weeks later

Suitability of the vaccine for you (FAQs)

We have a list of frequently asked questions on the suitability for you of the Pfizer and the Oxford/AstraZenaca vaccines.

If you have any questions on the suitability of the vaccine for you, you can email: epunft.askpharmacy@nhs.net. We cannot respond with personalised answers, but we will respond with a general answer and the FAQs will be updated according to the queries we receive.

Visit Pfizer’s public portal for helpful links.

Allergic reactions

Guidance from the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is that people with a history of anaphylaxis to food, an identified drug or vaccine, or an insect sting can receive any COVID-19 vaccine, as long as they are not known to be allergic to any component of the COVID-19 vaccines. There are very few people who cannot receive the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccines.

Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction.

You should not have the COVID-19 vaccine if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to:

  • a previous dose of the same vaccine
  • any of the ingredients in the vaccine

Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.

Advice if you’re of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding

There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.

The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re pregnant and:

  • at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work
  • have a health condition that means you’re at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus

You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re breastfeeding.

Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks with you.

You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

Read the latest COVID-19 vaccine advice if you’re pregnant, may get pregnant or are breastfeeding on GOV.UK

Read the latest Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and Royal College of Midwives statement on the COVID-19 vaccine and fertility

Are you an eligible frontline health or social care worker in England who can receive the vaccine now?

This means you have direct contact with patients, clients or service users at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

Health workers, for example:  work in a clinical role (such as a doctor or nurse), have contact in a non-clinical role (such as a receptionist or porter), work in a hospital laboratory, mortuary or a funeral home.

Social care workers provide face-to-face care or support to children or adults at higher risk from COVID-19 (clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable), for example, are a registered professional in social care (such as a social worker or nurse), work in residential care, nursing care or in supported living, provide personal care for people in their homes.

Health and social care workers need to bring official proof with you to have your vaccination. For example, a work ID card, wage slip or letter from your employer dated within the last 3 months. If you’re not sure if you’re eligible, speak to your employer.

If you provide home help, such as shopping or cleaning, are an unpaid carer or care for children who are not at higher risk from COVID-19, for example as a childminder or nursery nurse – you will be offered vaccine at a later date.

Information leaflets

Guide for older adults
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-for-older-adults

Women of childbearing age, currently pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breastfeeding
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-women-of-childbearing-age-currently-pregnant-planning-a-pregnancy-or-breastfeeding

Guide for healthcare workers
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-for-healthcare-workers

Guide for social care staff
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-a-guide-for-social-care-staff

What to expect after vaccination
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-what-to-expect-after-vaccination

Questions answered

Q. I have received a text message – is it a scam?

A. If you have received a text message from Basildon, Broomfield or Southend Hospital it means that you are eligible to have the COVID-19 vaccine. The text you have received will have clear NHS Mid and South Essex (MSE) branding with a link that allows you to book an appointment and there will also be a telephone line option. If you are concerned that the message is a scam, please call 01245 515 919.

The Government has asked us to initially focus on those who are at highest risk of serious COVID complications – this principally being people who are over 80 years old, alongside people who work in care homes and some people who work in health and care who are classified as ‘high risk’.

Q. I have no transport to get to one of the hospital vaccination hubs, what can I do?

A. If you are unable to get to the hospital vaccination hub you will still be offered the vaccination, possibly in your own home, on another date by your primary care provider. There are no patient transport services available for the vaccination programme.

Q. I don’t want to travel to hospital for the vaccine as it’s a COVID risk.

A. Our hospital vaccination hubs are safe and COVID secure. Any person needing to come to hospital should attend if they possibly can. The Basildon vaccination hub is inside the main entrance to the hospital in a newly built vaccination centre. Southend and Broomfield Hospitals’ hubs can be accessed without entering the main hospital buildings. Please follow the signs to the vaccination hubs. Those attending for their appointment must wear a mask and observe social distance guidelines.

Q. I have not been invited – should I have been?

A. The NHS will contact you when it’s your turn to have the vaccination. Please act on your invite when it comes, and make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them. Continue to stay at home to protect the NHS and abide by social distancing and hand hygiene guidance when you make essential journeys.

The Government has asked us to initially focus on those who are at highest risk of serious COVID complications.  Everybody will be invited to have the vaccination but this programme will take several months.

If you have not been contacted about having the COVID-19 vaccination, please read the information in the leaflet why you are being asked to wait https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-why-you-are-being-asked-to-wait

Q. Should patients contact their medical practice about existing medicines clashing with the vaccination?

A. Please do not contact your GP about medication interacting with the COVID-19 vaccine. There are no medications or treatments that are contra-indicated to receiving the COVID vaccine. The only caution is for those taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin, apixaban, edoxaban, rivaroxaban and dabigatran. However, they can receive the vaccine provided their treatment is stable and they do not have unexplained bruising or bleeding. All individuals attending for a vaccine will receive a pre-assessment review prior to having the vaccine and any potential issues will be identified then