3. Eligible cohorts and mechanisms for invitation to date
As outlined in our September Autumn and Winter Vaccination Strategy, we have called forward groups in order of prioritisation based on clinical advice, including expert advice from the JCVI.
Scheduled appointments were initially offered to those in higher risk groups, specifically:
- Care home residents and housebound patients were contacted by their Health Board regarding vaccination via ‘blue envelope’ appointment letter.
- Those aged (1) 60 years and over; (2) those individuals who were clinically extremely vulnerable; and (3) those aged 16 or over with underlying health conditions were invited via a ‘blue envelope’ appointment letter.
We subsequently opened the online vaccination booking portal (with an alternative phone option via the National Contact Centre) for the following additional eligible groups on these dates:
For Boosters and/or Flu:
- 21 September 2021 – Health and Social Care Workers aged 16 and over (including frontline and non-frontline);
- 27 October 2021 – Education staff and Prison Service staff;
- 15 November 2021 – (1) 50 to 59 year olds, (2) unpaid carers aged 16 and over, and (3) adult household contacts aged 16 and over of immunosuppressed people;
- 27 November 2021 – 40 to 49 year olds;
- 13 December 2021 – 30 to 39 year olds;
- 15 December 2021 – 18 to 29 year olds.
In addition, for 2nd primary doses:
- 30 November 2021 – for 16 and 17 year olds.
We have also then undertaken a range of activities to encourage those who did not initially come forward to self-book in each cohort. Beyond the local and national communications activity, we contacted those aged 40 to 59 who had not yet received their booster. This was by text or email on 26 November for over 50s and 30 November for over 40s, and we sent ‘blue envelope’ reminders on 30 November for over 50s and on 6 December for over 40s, inviting these groups to book appointments via the portal or the helpline. This approach has helped to increase uptake in these groups and therefore is an approach we are likely to replicate with cohorts in the future.
We have also been working to drive uptake where rates have been lower than anticipated for certain groups. For example, as at 17 December, rates of uptake of the booster vaccine are currently reported as significantly lower among social care staff, with 53.6% of frontline social care workers and 58.1% of care home staff having had their booster. This is in comparison to other sectors such as frontline healthcare workers (75.6%). We have written to all Health and Social Care providers and employers, and emphasised the importance of their role in encouraging and supporting their staff to take up the offer of vaccination boosters, for their own benefit and for the protection of those for whom they care. We have also written to NHS staff directly to encourage and highlight routes to vaccination. In addition, we have increased drop-in appointment availability to encourage flexibility in people’s busy working lives, and some Boards are again offering bespoke clinics for Health and Social Care staff.
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