NHS Lanarkshire has moved its coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination programme from multiple community venues to two ‘supercentres’ which have a combined capacity to see more than 50,000 people inoculated every week.
Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub understands that this means that residents of Greater Cumbernauld will now be invited to attend vaccination appointments at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility in Motherwell, with those living in South Lanarkshire attending Alistair McCoist Complex in East Kilbride. The two supercentres are now operational, and are open seven days per week from 8am to 8pm.
Seven smaller local facilities, including one based at Muirfield Community Centre in Cumbernauld, will continue to operate, along with mobile units, for those wishing to reschedule appointments if they are unable to travel to Motherwell. These local centres are planned to open on a rotational basis from later this week.
Whilst the current Cumbernauld venue is being retained for community appointments, the new system means that Garrell Vale Community Facility in Kilsyth and Iain Nicolson Recreation Centre in Chryston will no longer be used as vaccination centres.
The supercentres opened on Monday 8 March 2021, with health board officials indicating they will initiate a faster pace for the vaccination programme, which has now reached the milestone of issuing 200,000 doses to Lanarkshire residents. The centralisation of the programme is also enabling temporary staff to return to other roles within NHS Lanarkshire. Dr Mark Russell, Associate Medical Director of Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, commented:
“Our staff have been working incredibly hard and we administered 100,000 doses in February alone.
“Both the public and NHS Lanarkshire want our residents vaccinated quickly, so to help increase the pace of our local programme we are amending our current plan to vaccinate people as fast and as safely as possible.
“The new model has started as we move through priority group six (adults with eligible at-risk health conditions) and will remain in place for the other groups.
“Initially, all appointments will be at the supercentres; people can choose to reschedule their appointment to one of the local centres, but there will be a wait for these.
“We would strongly encourage people who can attend their appointment at a supercentre to do so. This will enable people to receive their vaccination sooner than they would otherwise, and will protect the local centres for those who cannot travel.”
Some vulnerable people will not be required to attend a supercentre for vaccination, however, with those aged 80 and over to receive their second dose from their GP locally and people who are housebound to receive their second dose by home visit.
Under current lockdown restrictions, attending a vaccination appointment is essential travel, and NHS Lanarkshire has stipulated that car-sharing is allowed to travel to an appointment if there are no other alternatives. National guidance advises to keep the number of people in the car to a minimum, sit as far apart as possible, wear a face covering and keep the windows open.
Cumbernauld citizens who are unable to access transport to attend their appointment at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility are being advised to call NHS inform’s national vaccination helpline on 0800 030 8013 (available 8am to 8pm seven days per week). Through the helpline, a local operator will provide details of how a volunteer driver can be booked through Voluntary Action North Lanarkshire.
KEY INFORMATION ABOUT COVID-19 VACCINATION
What Is A COVID-19 Vaccine?
A COVID‑19 vaccine is an injection administered to people intended to provide acquired immunity against COVID‑19. As of February 2021, there were 66 different vaccines undergoing clinical research worldwide. The UK has currently approved three vaccines as safe for use on the general population; the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. Each of these vaccines requires the recipient to have two doses, spaced a few weeks apart.
Prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic, work to develop a vaccine against other coronavirus diseases like SARS and MERS established knowledge about the structure and function of coronaviruses. This, coupled with huge investment and a worldwide scientific effort, resulted in development of the first approved COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020.
The UK Government has outlined a plan to vaccinate its entire adult population by Autumn 2021.
How Should I Prepare For My Vaccine Appointment?
On the day of your vaccine, wear practical clothing so that it’s easy to access your upper arm and remember to wear a face covering while travelling to, from and during your appointment. If you feel nervous about the jab, remember that it will take a just a few minutes to be vaccinated and the person carrying out the vaccination will be able to support you and answer any questions you may have.
How Safe Are COVID-19 Vaccines?
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. According to NHS, the vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
NHS reports that so far, millions of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported. It is important, however, that you tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction before.
Some mild and short-term side effects have been reported by vaccine recipients, including a sore arm where the needle went in, feeling tired, a headache, feeling achy and feeling or being sick. There is no risk whatsoever of individuals catching COVID-19 from having the vaccine.
It is recognised that some people hold and have expressed alternative views on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. In this respect, it is the role of Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub to provide information from verified sources, most notably the NHS.
How Effective Are COVID-19 Vaccines?
Compared with other vaccines, such as the influenza vaccine, experts believe that the COVID-19 vaccines developed and approved are of high efficacy, although a definitive answer on this will not be known until a much later stage. Generally, it is thought that it takes a few weeks for the vaccine to take effect and provide protection.
The first dose of any approved COVID-19 vaccine should provide good protection from coronavirus. For longer lasting protection, a second dose of the vaccine is required. It is important to note that vaccines do not provide 100% protection, hence it is still possible that individuals may contract or spread coronavirus even after being vaccinated.
Data from Pfizer suggests its vaccine is around 52% effective after the first dose, compared with 95% efficacy following the second. Studies have suggested that the AstraZeneca vaccine offers 64.1% protection after the first dose, compared to 70.4% efficacy after two doses.
Do I Need To Keep Wearing A Mask and Social Distancing After Being Vaccinated?
Everyone will be required to continue to follow the latest Scottish Government guidance on social distancing and wearing a mask where required, even after vaccination.
Not enough information is currently available to say when we can stop taking these precautions, as scientists need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide and how it affects transmission before making a decision.
Do I Still Need Vaccinated If I’ve Already Had COVID-19?
Due to the health risks associated with COVID-19 and the fact that reinfection is possible, individuals should still have the vaccine even if they have previously tested positive. However, people that have contracted COVID-19 are required to leave a gap between their positive test and getting the vaccine.
Experts do not know how long someone is protected for after recovering from COVID-19, as immunity varies from person to person. Early evidence suggests natural immunity from COVID-19 may not last very long and vaccination should provide longer immunity, but more studies are needed to better understand this.
Will I Still Need To Get A COVID-19 Test If I Have Symptoms After Vaccination?
If you find you are suffering from coronavirus symptoms after being vaccinated, then it’s important that you still get tested and follow isolation rules if a test comes back positive. Despite having boosted immunity to serious illness from the virus, self-isolation will be required as further information on transmission of the virus still requires to be known.
Can I Still Be Vaccinated If I’m Pregnant?
At the moment there is no indication that the vaccine could cause harm to pregnancy, but as the vaccine is still in the early stages of the roll-out there is insufficient data to recommend routine COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy
If you are pregnant and fall within a clinically vulnerable category outlined by the NHS, then you should speak to your GP about the risks and benefits of having the vaccine. Your GP will support you with making a decision that is right for you and your baby.
Can I Drink Alcohol After A COVID-19 Vaccine?
Some alcohol charities have urged individuals to err on the side of caution by not drinking alcohol for two weeks after getting the jab, although some experts do not think drinking will cause any problems.
Notably, the charity Drinkaware has indicated that there is a chance heavy drinking could interfere with the body’s ability to develop immunity after taking the vaccine. Anyone with concerns over this are advised to speak to their GP or allocated healthcare professional in advance of being vaccinated.
Locally, Cumbernauld CHaT (Community Help and Talk) provides a telephone helpline, open from 9am-9pm every day, and an email support service which aim to act as a first stop shop for advice, guidance, signposting, social contact and practical assistance for those in the Greater Cumbernauld area in need of support as a result of coronavirus.