COVID-19 vaccination programme
COVID-19 vaccination programme
Norfolk and Waveney continue to make great progress in rolling out the vaccination programme in our area to patients in priority groups 1-10:
- Anyone aged 45+
- Individuals who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable
- Those aged 16+ who share a household with someone who has severe immunosuppression
- Health and social care staff
- Care home workers and residents
- Carers (paid and unpaid) – see the section below for definitions
Walk-in vaccination clinics
UPDATE 19.04.21 - Due to an influx of bookings for COVID-19 vaccinations, drop-in clinics in Norfolk and Waveney are under review. We plan to announce further drop-in clinics shortly.
The availability of COVID-19 vaccine appointments can vary, depending on demand and vaccine supply, so the arrangements around drop-in clinics is going to change. Please be patient and keep checking back here, and on the national portal as appointments are regularly added to the National Booking System. Alternatively, eligible patients can contact their GP practice to ask for an appointment.
UPDATE 07/04/21: The MHRA and JCVI have issued new advice regarding the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Please note that even if you are in priority groups 1-10, but under the age of 30, you cannot attend the walk-in clinics. This is due to the type of vaccine currently available and changes to clinical guidance regarding the type of vaccine used for people under 30.
- Those aged 45+ and the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) can use the NHS national booking service online at nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or call 119 (free), between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
- Carers aged 16+ (paid and unpaid) and health and social care workers can book here or call 01603 257 256.
- Anyone aged 45+ can now contact their own GP practice if they have not yet had their first dose of the vaccine. Over the coming days, text messages will also be sent to people who wish to book via the national booking system People aged 16+ who share a household with someone who has severe immunosuppression should also contact their GP.
All other people outside eligible groups within 1-10 should wait to be contacted.
What else can I do while I wait for my vaccine?
COVID-19 infection rates remain high and local health services and hospitals are incredibly busy. The best thing we can all do to protect ourselves; our families and communities is to remember - Hands, Face, Space.
This page is being regularly updated to reflect the national guidance and the local queries we receive, so keep coming back to see the latest news, and take a look at our updates and the latest version of our 'Addressing YOUR Concerns’ document.
We are hearing some great stories of how well the vaccination programme is being delivered in Norfolk and Waveney. You can read about them in the compliments tab below. If you have a compliment to share, then visit the contact us section of our website.
Pictured: One of the first patients to receive the vaccine at the St James Surgery in King's Lynn.
When will I or my loved ones get the vaccine?
There are now three vaccines approved for use in the UK. They require two doses to provide longer-lasting protection.
An independent group of experts has recommended that the NHS first offers these vaccines to those at highest risk of catching the disease and/or of suffering serious complications or dying from COVID-19.
GP practices identify people on their registered patient list who are in the current priority group for vaccination. At the moment these are:
- anyone living in a care home for older adults
- care home staff
- those aged 80 years and over
- those aged over 75 years
- those aged over 70 years, and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals (not including pregnant women and those under 16 years of age), and adults with Down’s Syndrome
- frontline health care workers
- frontline social care workers
- those aged 65-69
- all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality (a list is available on the Government website), including homeless and rough sleepers
- Alongside this group the vaccine will also be offered to:
- Unpaid carers - Phase 1: those who are in receipt of a carer’s allowance, or whose carer status is flagged on their GP record. Phase 2: identifying unregistered, 'hidden' carers asking them to provide contact details so we can invite them for vaccination.
- Adults on a GP Register for learning disabilities – this will include adults with a severe or profound learning disability
- all those 60 years of age and over
- all those 56 years of age and over
- all those 50 years of age and over
- all those aged 45 - 49 years of age
Once the GP practice has identified their patient list, it is then sorted based on clinical need. For example, someone who is younger with serious underlying health conditions may receive the vaccine before someone else who is older but is generally fit and active.
Other factors are also taken into account. For example, patients considered to be ‘housebound’ would be vaccinated in the community and therefore won’t receive an invitation to attend a local vaccination centre at the same time as other people they may know locally. They may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine, as only some vaccines can be transported between people’s homes.
Leaving nobody behind:
We would encourage anyone who isn’t already registered with a GP to do so now; no proof of address or immigration status is needed. Everyone is welcome in General Practice – find out more at www.nhs.uk/register.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
People should not put off getting their COVID-19 vaccine after some EU countries temporarily paused the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab. Read the PHE leaflet for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine here.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said given the large number of doses administered, and the frequency at which blood clots can occur naturally, the evidence available does not suggest the vaccine is the cause.
Vaccine safety is of paramount importance and the regulator continually monitors the safety of vaccines to ensure that the benefits outweigh any potential risks.
Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon.
More than 11 million doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK.
Reports of blood clots received so far are not greater than the number that would have occurred naturally in the vaccinated population.
The safety of the public will always come first.
The MHRA is keeping this issue under close review but available evidence does not confirm that the vaccine is the cause.
People should still be encouraged to receive their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.
The COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the MHRA.
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
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.
To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
- UK: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- UK: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- UK: Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
The MHRA encourages anyone to report any suspicion or concern they have beyond the known, mild side effects on the Coronavirus Yellow Card site.
What should I do if I am not registered with a GP?
Can you still get vaccinated if you are not registered with a GP?
If you are not registered with a GP, you should be able to ask your local GP practice and you will, when your turn comes round, be vaccinated. However, we strongly encourage patients to register with their local GP practice so that patients can have access to all the general health and medical services you may require that comes with being on a GP patient list. Patients not registered with a GP practice will still have the ability to access a Covid vaccination.
If someone already has a NHS number (most UK adults will have one) the practice will be able to find this, and their vaccination event will be able to be recorded on the national vaccine recording system. If someone doesn't have a NHS number, they will have to register with a GP in order to get one. This will generate a NHS number allowing their vaccine status (whether they have been vaccinated or not) to be recorded.
What if I am registered with a GP practice somewhere else in the country? Can I still be vaccinated by a local vaccination service near to where I am now living?
Patients do not have to be registered with a local GP practice in order to receive a vaccination.
Registering with a GP practice provides full access to general health and medical services and is encouraged. If someone is registered elsewhere and staying in Norfolk and Waveney for up to 3 months, they can register as a temporary resident with a local practice. If they will be staying here for more than three months, they should re-register with a GP practice local to them on a permanent basis.
Can I get a Vaccine if I don’t have an NHS Number?
Can I get a Vaccine if I don’t have an NHS Number?
Yes. People do not require an NHS number or GP registration to receive a vaccination and should never be denied one on this basis. Local leaders have been asked to take action to ensure this is not the case.
If someone does not have an NHS number but is within an eligible group, services have been advised to vaccinate now, record locally via a paper system, and ensure vaccination is formally documented later.
You can find your NHS number via the NHS website. It will ask for your name, date of birth and postcode, and your NHS number will sent to you by text, email or letter.
Anyone can register with a GP surgery - you do not need proof of address or immigration status.
What information will I need to give out when I book my vaccination?
You will be asked for your name and date of birth (DOB). If you know your NHS Number this will help to speed up the process. Your NHS number appears on various documents and correspondence you may have received related to your healthcare or medications. If you cannot find it at home you can use this service on the NHS website to find your number. Please do not call your GP to request your NHS number as they are telephone lines are incredibly busy and should be kept clear for patients who need to make appointments.
How are the vaccines being prioritised?
You can view the first phase priority groups in this poster produced by Public Health England.
You can read about why you have to wait for your COVID-19 vaccine on the Government website or look at one of the guides listed below.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) published advice on what the priority groups should be. You can read the latest advice here.
Where are the vaccines being delivered?
The COVID-19 vaccine is being given to people at three types of locations across Norfolk and Waveney.
You will be offered an appointment when it is your turn. Please don’t call hospitals or GP practices to ask for a vaccine – they won’t be able to offer you a vaccine until it is your turn.
1. Hospital hubs
Three hospitals are delivering the vaccine by appointment only: James Paget, Norfolk and Norwich and Queen Elizabeth NHS Trusts.
2. PCN Sites
Our Primary Care Networks (PCNs) have set-up sites across Norfolk and Waveney to deliver the vaccine from. They have also developed roving teams to go to care homes and people who are housebound. Our 21 GP-led sites are:
- Fakenham Medical Practice, Fakenham
- St James Medical Practice, King’s Lynn
- Lionwood Medical Practice, Norwich
- Falkland Surgery, Bradwell
- Swanton Morley Surgery, Swanton Morley
- Thetford Healthy Living Centre, Thetford
- Kirkley Mill Surgery, Lowestoft
- Cringleford Surgery, Cringleford
- St John’s Surgery, Terrington St John
- Trinity and Bowthorpe Medical Practice, Norwich
- Park Surgery, Great Yarmouth
- Drayton Medical Practice
- Sheringham Medical Practice
- The Market Surgery, Aylsham
- Sole Bay Health Centre, Southwold
- Manor Farm Medical Centre, Swaffham
- Poringland Community Centre, South Norfolk
- Gurney Surgery, Norwich
- Hoveton Village Hall, North Norfolk
- Rossis Leisure, North Walsham
- Snettisham Surgery
3. Large vaccination centres
There are currently 8 large vaccination centres delivering vaccinations in Norfolk and Waveney. These are:
- Castle Quarter shopping centre, Norwich
- King’s Lynn Corn Exchange, Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn
- Connaught Hall, Station Road, Attleborough
- North Walsham Community Centre, New Road, North Walsham
- Norwich Community Hospital, Bowthorpe Road, Norwich
- Law Courts, Lowestoft
- The Town Hall, Downham Market
- Paddock Road Surgery, Harleston
4. Can I get a Covid Vaccine at my local pharmacy?
As of Monday March 22nd there are two pharmacies delivering the vaccine in Norfolk and Waveney:
- Hayden Chemist based at Hayden House, Bridge Rd, Lowestoft
- Beccles Health Centre Pharmacy, St Mary’s Road, Beccles
As more pharmacies join the local programme in the coming weeks, and as new vaccination sites go live, we will update the news section of our website.
Can I buy a Covid Vaccine privately?
The pharmacies offering COVID-19 vaccinations are part of the national NHS vaccination programme and the vaccines are provided free on the NHS.
Unlike the flu jab, you cannot currently pay for a COVID vaccination at pharmacies.
I am an unpaid carer for a family member or friend – can I have the vaccine?
The vaccine is available for eligible carers (paid and unpaid) who:
- Are in receipt of a carer’s allowance OR
- Are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person who is clinically vulnerable to COVID-19 OR whose welfare may be at risk if their carer falls ill.
This includes carers who are:
- A parent or primary carer of a disabled child or young person
- Young carers aged 16+
- Caring for someone with severe mental illness
If you are registered as a carer with your GP practice or receive regular carers allowance payments, you should automatically receive an invitation for vaccination and do not need to contact us.
Those carers not known to health and care services can register their contact details to be invited for vaccination. The easiest way to do this is online.
A 24/7 telephone voicemail service 01603 257 256 is also available but is only intended for people who are unable to register online.
Caring Together offer free support to carers, and those they care for, so they can get to vaccination appointments - this includes transport to and from appointments and qualified care workers providing cover to look after someone with care needs.
Paid care workers who have not yet received a vaccine (or been identified via their employer) can also register at the website address above. This includes people working for a home care provider, a private agency, people paid as a personal assistant through Direct Payments or those working under a private arrangement.
Covid guidance for carers is available on the Carers UK website.
Translated guides about Covid-19.
View our dedicated page for translated documents here
Is any transport assistance available?
A number of GP surgeries across Norfolk and Waveney are making vaccination appointments for those eligible to have the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you've been invited for an appointment, your GP surgery will check your transport arrangements with you. There are various options available if you need any further help to arrange transport to the surgery.
If you have any difficulties getting to your appointment, or require further assistance or support, please discuss this with your GP practice or hospital when they contact you.
If you live in the Waveney area Connecting Communities can help to arrange transport to help you get to your COVID-19 vaccination once you have an appointment booked.
Caring Together is offering support to carers in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to enable them to access the COVID-19 vaccine.
Addressing YOUR Concerns - Common questions and key facts about the vaccination programme
This information is written in plain English and is aimed at anyone who may have heard things about the vaccine that has made them concerned. This document will be updated based on engagement with feedback from specific patient groups, professionals working in health and social care and the enquiries we receive from the public. Read it here
Which vaccines have been approved?
Second Covid-19 Vaccine appointments
Both of the two Covid-19 vaccines currently available need to be given in two separate doses with time in between - AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine between 4 and 12 weeks apart, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at least 3 weeks apart.
For both vaccines, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) guidance is that both offer considerable protection after a single dose, at least in the short term. For both vaccines the second dose completes the course and is likely to be important for longer term protection.
Prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible on the priority list will protect the greatest number of at risk people overall in the shortest possible time. It will also have the greatest impact on reducing the number of people who die, become acutely ill or need hospitalisation, and in protecting the NHS and care services.
So, in line with the national directive, second doses of both vaccines are being given towards the end of the recommended 12 week timeframe. This means that many people that were booked in for their second vaccine three weeks after their first dose, will have their appointments changed for a later date.
We recognise the inconvenience this may cause if you have had a second dose appointment cancelled, but it is important that we use current vaccine stock to vaccinate as many people as possible on the priority list with their first dose.
Please do not worry if you have already had your first dose as you will not be forgotten. You will be invited back for a second dose within the 12-week window. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Work or volunteer with us to help deliver the vaccine
The NHS in Norfolk and Waveney is recruiting thousands of vaccinators and support staff to help protect millions of people from COVID-19.
By bolstering its workforce the NHS will be able to offer the public potentially life-saving protection from coronavirus in a range of locations, focusing on the most at-risk groups first, whilst at the same time keeping A&Es, elective surgery, GPs and community services going.
Roles we are seeking to fill across Norfolk and Waveney include:
- Clinical Operational Supervisors
- Registered Practitioners
- Front of house receptionists
- Post-vaccination Observation Support Volunteers
If you’re interested in opportunities available across Norfolk and Waveney, we’d love to hear from you. You can find out more by:
- visiting NHS Jobs where you can also apply online, or
Vaccine information for specific patient groups and staff
- Guide for older adults - This leaflet provides information about the COVID-19 vaccination programme, who is eligible and who needs to have the vaccine to protect them from the virus. This guide is for older adults.
- Guide for healthcare workers - All frontline health and social care workers are being offered the COVID19 vaccine. This guide is for healthcare workers.
- Guide for social care staff - All frontline health and social care workers are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine. This guide is for social care workers.
- Vaccine for those with Severe Mental Illness. Guide | Webinar notes
For the hard of hearing please see the BSL video explaining vaccination procedures for older adults below:
Guide to getting the COVID Jab for those with SMI | Part 1
Guide to getting the COVID Jab for those with SMI | Part 2
Are there reasons why I may not be able to have either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine?
There are slightly different rules as to who will not be able to receive the Pfizer and AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccines currently available.
You will not be able to have the Pfizer vaccine if you:
• are less than 16 years of age
• have had an allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine
• have a history of immediate-onset anaphylaxis to many drugs, or unexplained anaphylaxis
• are pregnant
• are suffering from a fever
• are participating in a clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines
• have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the preceding 21 days
• have completed a course of COVID-19 vaccination
You will not be able to have the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine if you:
• are less than 18 years of age
• have had a previous allergic reaction (including anaphylaxis) to a previous dose of AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccine
• are pregnant
• are suffering from a fever
• are participating in a clinical trial of COVID-19 vaccines
• have received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the preceding 28 days
• have completed a course of COVID-19 vaccination
Are vaccination sites accessible for people with mobility problems?
All of our vaccination sites have undergone rigorous assessments to ensure they are both as accessible as possible.
All our local practices, hospitals and community pharmacies are required to be accessible under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). Those that are vaccination sites are used to offering flu vaccinations and a range of services to people with a variety of physical needs. Most of the sites are making information about accessibility available on their websites, for example at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
All our large vaccination sites (LVS) also need to be DDA compliant including ramps for those entering or leaving the building. The Castle Quarter LVS in Norwich Castle Mall is also able to offer visitors use of a lift. LVS sites were selected on the basis of having 60 public car parking spaces on-site or nearby.
We realise that for many adults who live with autism or learning disabilities, going to the vaccination centre can be difficult. There is information about the vaccination programme and what to expect on our easy read page, and on the Suffolk Ordinary Lives website.
NHS England has visited all of the sites described above to ensure they are suitable before they are allowed to operate as a vaccination site.
Can I catch Covid-19 from going to a vaccination site?
Every possible effort is made to ensure that the vaccination process is safe. All our vaccination sites have to comply with strict social distancing and hand hygiene measures following guidance from Public Health England.
An Infection and Prevent Control Nurse from NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG reviewed every risk assessment and specification for all the proposed sites to make sure they were suitable.
Social distancing is observed at all times during queuing, having your vaccination and, if appropriate, during the 15 minutes observation time required afterwards.
Your temperature is checked on arrival and anyone with a high temperature will not be allowed into the vaccination centre. Hand sanitisers are available at regular intervals, and chairs are sanitised between each vaccination.
The vaccinator asks a series of screening questions to make sure the individual is suitable to receive the vaccine. Only suitably trained, competent staff are able to support the vaccination process.
What happens if I get a letter inviting me to use the national booking system?
As well as being offered vaccination appointments at local GP practices and community hubs, patients aged 70+ and 80+ (as well as health and care frontline staff, and people on the national shielded list) are now receiving letters from NHS England inviting them to use the national booking system for an appointment at Castle Quarter in Norwich (and Hayden Chemist in Lowestoft).
1) Have already had a first vaccination and been given an appointment for a second dose, then please keep this appointment and ensure you go back to the same place where you first attended.
2) Have a confirmed appointment with your local GP practice or community hub for a first vaccine then please keep this appointment and ignore the letter sent by NHS England.
3) Have received a letter from NHS England offering you an appointment at Castle Quarter in Norwich and have not previously been offered an appointment from your GP practice or a community hub then you can choose to either:
a) Book a vaccination at Castle Quarter through the national appointment system using the telephone number and website address provided in the NHS England letter
b) Wait until a local GP Practice or community hub contacts you with an appointment. You shouldn’t have to wait too long as this process is underway.
My hospital appointment has been changed and I don’t know what to do?
If your appointment has been changed or cancelled we will contact you with new appointment details so there is no need to ring the hospital unless you are concerned that your condition has changed – in which case contact the relevant hospital department in the first instance.
If you have an appointment, and haven’t heard from us, please attend as scheduled. Our hospitals are zoned to keep both staff and patients safe – and it is important that you keep your appointment so we can conduct an assessment of your condition as soon as possible.
Information for pregnant women
Compliments - positive feedback on the vaccination programme
You can also leave feedback and review what others have said on the
30 March 2021
Received via telephone: A lady attended the Caste Quarter site today and wanted to express her thanks to all staff. She commented the centre was well run, well organised, had friendly staff and the experience was amazing. Well played all!
6 March 2021
I was fortunate to have my first covid vaccination yesterday at the food hall Castle Quarter.
I would appreciate it if you could pass on my thanks to everyone there. It was so efficient and well run and everyone concerned was smiling and making all the people being vaccinated at ease.
22 Jan 2021
"I had my first jab last Sunday at a Village Hall. Once we got into the hall it was very well organised and extremely speedy and painless. A most helpful lady was at the exit to offer a helping hand up the ramp to the outside. They had thought of everything. A big Thank You to all concerned at the practice.
I received the official letter the following day enclosing a leaflet which seemed to suggest that the secibd jab would depend on my making the appointment instead of its being arranged by the practice. However, on reading the NHS information page online, it seems that this is not so.
Thank you NHS!!!"
13 Jan 2021
"I had a COVID 19 vaccination today and I should like you all to know how very efficient the whole process was. Easy parking, with my wheelchair being taken to the centre, where there was nothing but smiles and efficiency and a rapid movement through the whole process, and then taken out to the car park attendant and back to the car. THE WHOLE PROCESS COULD NOT HAVE BEEN DONE ANY BETTER OR EFFICIENTLY! Thank you"
11 Jan 2021
“I wanted to share my experience of taking my parents to a vaccination site in Great Yarmouth and Waveney area three weeks ago for their first jab. We were greeted at the gates by a lovely young man who was polite, reassuring and explained where I was going, where to park etc. I explained I had both parents and they weren’t very mobile to which he assured me there was nothing to worry about, and he organised the traffic to allow me to park close to the entrance. He then proceeded to assist me with a wheelchair for my mother, and wheeled my mother in whilst I walked my dad. It was such a relief as I suffer from anxiety and don’t know how I would have coped. On the way in I was greeted by a lady who again was fantastic and went out of her way to put me at ease.
Once inside the system was flawless. We were met at the desk by a lady manager who was friendly and again very helpful. The staff inside were brilliant with both my parents, and the process was efficient and very good. After we had sat for the waiting period after the jabs and it was time to leave, I was pleasantly surprised to find I had assistance from both the earlier people again helping to get my parents in the car. I honestly was so relieved that they went out of their way to ensure the safety and comfort of me and my vulnerable parents.
Yesterday we returned for my parents second vaccine and although I was greeted by a different person on the gate which worried me, I was relieved to see the young man I saw first time who recognised me. He again accommodated me a space close to the entrance and again went out of his way to assist me getting my mother into a wheelchair and again wheeling her in so she wasn’t in the cold. It was a gesture which reminds me there are still kind caring people out there. The process was again flawless with the young man also on hand again to help me.
I was so worried about taking my parents for their vaccines and as it’s just me who is local out of all my family, and knowing the importance of the vaccine, so I went ahead even though my anxiety was high and I did it!
So lastly I want to thank all members staff who made us feel at ease and provided a seamless service but I would like to say a special thank you to that young man who went above and beyond on both visits, and organised everything so well, assisting me and making me and my parents feel at ease. The whole process was much more easy than I thought, even though it was freezing cold! He was brilliant and a credit to the NHS. I hope the staff and this gentleman get my thanks and appreciation.
Keep up the great work you’re doing!”
COVID Oximetry @home monitoring service
The NHS is expanding a monitoring service which is helping to support people at home who have been diagnosed with coronavirus and are most at risk of becoming seriously unwell.
Already available in many areas of the country, this service is now being expanded as part of how the NHS is supporting coronavirus patients during the second wave of the pandemic.
We are pleased to announce the COVID Oximetry @home monitoring service is now live across NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
People who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, are symptomatic, and either extremely vulnerable to coronavirus or aged 65 or older, including people in care homes, will be provided with a pulse oximeter and supporting information so that they can self-monitor their oxygen levels at home for up to 14 days, with assistance from carers and/or family where appropriate.
A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that is put on the tip of the finger, to check someone’s oxygen levels. Pulse oximeters measure blood oxygen levels by transmitting light through a finger – they are more accurate than smart watches or phones which make less accurate readings by reflecting light off the skin. By regularly monitoring oxygen levels with a pulse oximeter, it can be easier to spot if coronavirus symptoms are getting worse and identify if someone needs treatment or support.
Regular prompts or check-in calls, emails or texts will be offered to confirm that the patient is using the oximeter and recording the information correctly, usually via a paper diary or suitable app.
Clear guidance on what to do in case of any concerns (either via contacting the GP, 111 or attending A&E in case of emergency) will be provided, with 24/7 access to advice and support.
If, after 14 days of the onset of symptoms, patients show no signs of deterioration with coronavirus, they will be appropriately discharged from the service and given advice on returning the oximeter safely, and how to continue supporting themselves at home.
NHS Volunteer Responders are on hand to support the service by delivering oximeters to people’s homes where needed.
Patients are encouraged to safely and promptly return oximeters so they can support the NHS, other patients and help minimise the environmental impact.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is a pulse oximeter?
A pulse oximeter is a small medical device that is put on the tip of the finger, to check someone’s oxygen levels. Pulse oximeters measure blood oxygen levels by transmitting light through a finger – they are more accurate than smart watches or phones which make less accurate reading by reflecting light off the skin. By regularly monitoring oxygen levels, it can be easier to spot if coronavirus symptoms are getting worse and whether people need to be admitted to hospital.
Why is this service being recommended?
Research has shown that patients most at risk of becoming very unwell from coronavirus are best identified by oxygen levels. Because of this, the use of a pulse oximeter to monitor oxygen levels, including at home, is recommended for this group. This means that people are more likely to get the help they need as quickly as possible if their condition worsens.
Is everyone with a positive diagnosis of coronavirus eligible?
This service is being designed to support those who are most likely to benefit, which are those people who are most at risk of becoming very unwell from COVID-19. This includes people with COVID-19 who are symptomatic and have either been identified as clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, or are aged 65 or older, including people in care homes.
What oximeters should people use? Can people use their own devices or smartwatches to monitor their oxygen saturation levels?
All oximeters for home use should be CE marked and must meet the international standard (ISO 80601-2-61:2017). Some new devices such as smartwatches can measure blood oxygen levels, however, these devices are generally not medically accurate and therefore should not be used for monitoring oxygen levels of someone with coronavirus.
What support and training is available for patients, carers, families to help use and interpret the oximeters?
A patient diary is available to download which includes step by step, written instructions on using an oximeter and what to do in case of concerns. This includes a paper version of a diary for monitoring but in some areas /for some patients where it is appropriate, an app may also be used. There is also an NHS film on how to use a pulse oximeter and general information available on NHS UK. Translated and easy read versions of the patient diary are available (to access latest versions of the diary and alternative versions, visit this landing page).
Support the vaccination roll-out on social media
Support for employers and their staff in getting the Covid-19 vaccine
Information is available on the ACAS website about supporting people in paid employment to get the Covid-19 vaccination.